I have been reflecting on what I saw and experienced in Zimbabwe, the physiological, political and financial needs, the church, the business, the searching for a saviour and the reflections I see in the UK. My reflections bring me to the theme of water. What concerns me is the church has become reliant on models of delivering sanitised spirituality through a Victorian system or a bottled version with exaggerated promises.
One week I am waking up wondering about the safety of a journey across Harare to the airport, the next I am taking my kids to school then heading towards the Houses of Parliament. One week I have no internet due to the Zimbabwe government shutting it down, the next I have easy access to high speed broadband and 4G wherever I go. One week I am in glorious sunshine the next I am wondering if the snow might settle or if it will just blow around a do nothing.
As a team of mostly white European Christian’s we rely on our money, tablets, bottled water, lotions, potions, phones, wifi, we don't rely on God. We rely on our intellect to win the game of politics of church power and control. We rely on safe foods, hand sanitizer, ability to bride, insurance, contacts in high places ... who is our God?
It was insightful, honest, challenging, gripping and inspiring. Rev. Gondongwe articulated the theology, thoughts and practices I have had as meandering ideas but he expressed them with clarity and in a succinct manner. Rarely do I hear Christians speak about the faults and mistakes of the church as well as its successes and positive contributions. It was excellent.
The singing is great, only this time we are required to dance when our name is called. It is a somewhat embarrassing experience, though fun, I am pleased that none of us are famous enough to warrant TV crews who will share footage far and wide. It is enough to say, white folk can't dance!
Whilst I am interested in buildings, it was not the most enthralling visit. The new offices will be substantial in size and I suspect and very nice place in which to work and meet. I was however, most interested in the construction process and the almost sculpture like wooden scaffolding winding around the building and providing a wooden ramp from the ground to the roof.
I wonder about the history before Rhodes, but this is a history almost destroyed by the era of colonisation and post-inpendence. I'm concerned that only looking back to the days when Zimbabwe was apparently known as the breadbasket of Africa will not bring the answers Zimbabwe needs.
It is great to hear the music, the sound of a few simple instruments and the beauty of the singing.
On Sunday I stood and watched as thousands of women marched through the streets of London as part of Processions 2018 and I was inspired. But, there is a problem. It requires that we keep on marching, keep on processing, keep on telling the story.
Jesus preached that we should love God and love our neighbours. This week I heard a preacher subtly preach condemnation, encouraging the congregation to boldly stand up for rights, to be ready to fight. It was a sermon that misused scripture and encouraged hatred for anything that is other. It was a sermon that subtly made space for racism, sexism and homophobia. The church is broken because it’s forgotten to love her neighbours and is choosing to fight them instead.