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This last week started spectacularly badly … Sunday morning I met my new church community, a small, beautiful, wounded community in Howick called Brentwood, fairly close to the community I worked with through Musgrave and an overflow from the community at Mphophomeni. Two friends from Seminary went with me, so they explained how the service would run, what I could expect, etc… stating that first off, as it was a Wesley Guild opening service (the Wesley Guild is a youth organisation within the Methodist Church) that it would be quite long … the first bit of resistance hit me. Long? I know what long means in African tradition, it means, LOOOOONNNGGG! So I was annoyed before I even arrived at church.

One of my colleagues explained the use of liturgy within the African Church and how I would have to get hold of a Liturgy book (in Zulu) that contained the readings, prayers and songs that are set for each week and which constitute the first hour/half hour of every service. Structure, in oldy-wordy-boringness! The second round of resistance hit me!

When we arrived, we were greeted by warm, loving, hospitable faces! My new pastor Rev Kumalo is a delightful man. He works at the University here in KZN and is learned, gentle and embracing. We couldn’t have asked for a better welcome. But the resistance was still there. I was way, way out of my comfort zone and after some reflecting this week have come to see that much of my resistance and annoyance was due in large part to fear. How do you help take care of a community who don’t understand you and who you don’t understand? So I guess it’s hardly surprising my little ego self cried out in a temper tantrum of note – that familiar little internal scream threatened to bubble up…

Monday afternoon I was leading a funeral service for a very dear friend, a friend of the gay husband’s family – a large service at Musgrave and one I felt an enormous responsibility towards. So of course, Sunday evening my laptop gave up the ghost, literally moving on to glory *freeze, hang, deadasadoornail*. I lost the sermon prep for the funeral and the order of service, not to mention the assignment that was due Monday morning which I hadn’t printed because I wanted to review it closer to the time … grrrr.

Monday morning I was close to spontaneous combustion – I felt like I was coming apart at the seams, I felt like I was losing control and of course I was losing control, that’s the whole point of wilderness living.

I am not in control …

Sunday night’s scripture devotion read these words to me:

At once the Spirit sent him out into the desert, and he was in the desert forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals and the angels attended him.’

All through Monday in my fear and terror and latent resistance I kept hearing those words – whilst he was in the ‘wilderness’ the angels attended … and so although I arrived at the funeral terrified out of my wits at what would happen I opened the service with a quiet assurance that the angels would be in attendance and they were! Boy were they in attendance!

I was not in control, but I was carried so that God could minister to that group of people…

The week has gotten better, but only in so much as I understand what is happening. This is only the beginning of the 40 days leading to Easter, my commitment to God and to this journey means embracing the wilderness and looking out for the lessons. It means submitting to the process of preparation. It may not be comfortable, but as long as I keep remembering that God is in control of my wilderness experience I can be less resistant and more trusting. Nothing truly great gets going without a tremendous amount of courage and trust and patience and with the wild animals that have nipped at my heels this week I look forward with anticipation at what will come out of this journey.

Please friends, continue to pray for me – let me be brave in the face of ‘otherness’, let me be trusting in the process that is guiding my steps and let me be open to any and all experiences that come my way – and for those of you who are walking your own wilderness trail – know that we are not alone, God is close at hand and the angels are in attendance.

With love …

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