Monday, February 19, 2007

The Return

I returned to my spiritual cradle on Sunday.

My father is coming to the end of his year of being the town mayor (for the second time). It is customary for the outgoing mayor to hold a civic service (according to whichever belief or non-belief the mayor follows), where local dignitaries from around the town, district and even county are present. In the case of my dad, the service was held at the Anglican church of St. Nicholas.

My dad is a family orientated man and being such, wanted my sister, her boyfriend and myself to play a role in the service. For Charlotte and Ron, this meant playing music... and for my part, I was asked to read the Old Testament reading.

St. Nick's is an interesting place for me; as it was the family church, it was there that I first became aware of the concept of God... it therefore marks the beginning of my spiritual journey. However, at a certain age I realised the place was not good for me and if I was to have any hope of blossoming spiritually, I needed to find my own way and so I left. I'm very wary of the place given the spiritual history of the town, the influence of Freemasons and the lack of spiritual nourishment I tend to feel on the odd occasion I do go at Christmas or Easter.

Waiting for the service to begin, I was a little nervous... because I didn't know whereabouts on the page, my reading would be. This feeling soon dissipated however as the organ resounded for the first hymn (Guide Me O, Though Great Redeemer). I really felt inspired to belt out the tune as loud I could. I feel it is a gift I have... not to lead in worship, but to sing in such a way as to enable others to lift their own praises higher.

The time came for my reading and I had NO fear, memories of past oppression did not even cross my mind. I just got up and delivered the scripture to the people. I just wanted it to read like Jesus would... more than that, I just wanted Jesus to read it through me. I kind of felt like I was making a statement of intent. A taste of things to eventually come. The town has been spiritually famished for some time... but many folk are just not aware of it. I'll tell you more about the actual passage in another post.
I continued to be moved by my dad's excellent choice of hymns (they may have been old, but they were certainly classic). Something that touched my heart was when the prayers were read. At first I thought one of them had been written by someone in the church prayer book, bu it became apparent that it was in fact a poetic prayer written empathetically in the first person, with regard to different individual groups and their various needs. I was especially touched by the prayer for/from the single person. I fall into this group and it is a group that is shamefully neglected in the prayers of many churches. I'm not saying we want to be at the top of the list, prayed for every week. I am saying that the occasional acknowledgment that sometimes the single path (whether it be by sovereign/personal choice or circumstance), can be a painful and lonely one to walk, wouldn't go amiss.

Ron played a Malawian folk song in the Chichewa language. It was a very fitting choice. It is about a town which is suffering from sickness and the people all blame an old man and make him a scapegoat, believing him to be a witch doctor. If you are interested in listening to more of Ron Nkomba's music, or finding out more about him, you can visit his Myspace profile, it is well worth a listen.

Like, the song Ron played, I believe my hometown is spiritually sick... and various groups of people blame various other groups for why that is. However, only a fool accuses the flower or the fruit as the source of wrong... but neglects the root, from which both flower and fruit draw their nourishment.

I've attached some pictures of the party after the service, I've been told I "scrub up quite well":



1 comment:

  1. Anonymous4:02 pm

    cool beans Mr. Payne, glad to hear about it.
    I love hymns - I think some of the lyrics to older hymns are very powerful, especially when sung cooperately by those who believe what they are singing, man, that OWULD be amazing.


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