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St John’s, Petauke

December 4, 2011

We finally got to worship with our fellow Lutheran brothers and sisters here in Petauke this morning.

The congregation is in the process of gathering funds and materials to build their church building. In the meantime, they worship in the parsonage. The thing is, the parsonage isn’t completed yet, either. Right now it’s just brick walls made into the shapes of the rooms – no floor, no roof.

So, we got sunburned sitting in church on the Second Sunday in Advent.

Before the English service, the pastor gathered some loose bricks and fashioned them into a makeshift altar about 12 inches high. He laid some planks (leftover ends from the rafter installation) across them, carefully laid out the elements for Holy Communion, covered them with a cloth, and then secured the cloth with stones so it wouldn’t blow away. He joked with me that he was like Abraham, building an altar so he could call on the name of the Lord. We sat on small piles of bricks and wooden stools.

There were about 9 people in the English service. We sang Silent Night (a cappella) twice, because that was the only Christmas/Advent hymn the congregation knew in English. Then came a Bible study time while the Chewa crowd gathered. By the time the Chewa service was underway, there were about 25 souls gathered in the pastor’s future living room.

We sang. We prayed. We confessed, and were assured of God’s love and forgiveness. We listened to the Word. We heard a sermon on Mark 1 and the message of John the Baptizer. We received Jesus’ true Body and Blood together with our fellow members of the one, holy, Christian, and apostolic Church. We heard God’s blessing pronounced on us. We shook everybody’s hand. We learned a few Chewa words. We went home and had bacon and eggs. We decorated the house for Christmas. Chris took a nap.

May your Advent, wherever you are celebrating it, be filled with the same blessings.

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