Summer is over and a new school year is ahead for us. For parents the school calendar dictates the rhythm of our scheduling… this sets the vacation time, the sleeping time, the family schedule or does it?
At Hope Presbyterian church, we tick and tock on a different set of rhythm. It’s not the school calendar, or even the liturgical calendar that sets the rhythm for us… For us, we flow and roll with whatever punches or curve balls life throws at us.
When a close relative passes away in our motherland or in our adopted land, that sets the rhythm for the year. We will take whatever time is necessary to grieve, mourn, bury, and celebrate and witness that indeed neither life nor death or any other powers can separate us from the love of God.
I’m still processing my first meeting with the Halle family, the wake service we had in a business complex hall, the importing of Cameroonian tradition of eating peanuts and corn as the first serving of the meal for a family in mourning and their guests, the meshing of western Christianity in which an Asian American pastor delivered the Word and attempted to incarnate the comfort of the Holy Spirit… all the seats covered in linen, all the crystals and candles, and all the beautifully coordinated and matching outfits as if we were at a party! And it was a party with kegs of alcohol and a warning not to get too drunk because we didn’t want to experience any accidents from the party, thus said the hostess as she introduced that the evening was young and the celebrations will continue onward until the dawn.
So, our children are used to a different rhythm. Many have stayed up until way beyond midnight and they are not even five years old yet. Of course they have also slept in way after noon and it wasn’t just a short nap.
Thus, the inevitable and uncontrollable are the beats that sets the rhythm, sometimes a rhythm that is so unpredictable that you didn’t even know you were able to fly 17 hours to spend 2 weeks in your motherland that would determine how much of your annual budget would go to support the extended family. And yet, beat after beat, day after day, God is faithful.
At Hope Presbyterian, this summer was full of surprises: another successful soccer camp, record breaking attendance at VBS, an after worship hedging day that cleaned out the large branches which covered the view of our sign and which launched the idea of having a bonfire for our youth and church. All this while singing hymns and finding out our favorite ice cream flavors, challenging ourselves to put a large screen television in the sanctuary so that we can better communicate the gospel and have fun with movie nights… And the rhythm of the church remains about giving birth, burying the dead, celebrating weddings, visiting the sick, feeding the hungry, baptizing, educating the young and doing life with Jesus because our unpredictable life’s final destination is more than predictable: we are headed to meet Christ face to face.
And so join us each worship Sunday of September as we study the book of James together, as we ponder about being in the world but not of it, as we fully claim our heavenly citizenship.