“Give all, gain all.” Mahatma Gandhi
Four and a half hours of worship. Songs, some a cappella and others accompanied by a keyboard, which would give you chills. Dancing by young and old. Words in Portuguese, English and Chindau. This is worship with the United Church of Christ in Mozambique.
Four and a half hours of worship. Songs, some a cappella and
others accompanied by a keyboard, which would give you chills. Dancing by young
and old. Words in Portuguese, English and Chindau. This is worship with the
United Church of Christ in Mozambique.
So many thoughts ran through my mind in this worship
service. First, what a privilege it is
to be a part of worship in a different culture, with different languages and
varied theology and views.
Second, I realized how little I know, as a minister, about
pastoring such a congregation. What would it be like to minister to so many who
have so little materially? What words would be adequate enough? What actions
and/or attitudes would one require to share Christ in this context?
And last, why can I not break loose and go singing and
dancing with my offering to the basket? What holds me back? Is it me? Is it
God? Is it my upbringing in the USA? Is it my lack of skill in the rhythm
Singing and dancing are important aspects of many African
cultures, and worship serves to mark special occasions in the lives of
individuals and congregations. On this
Sunday, fifteen new youth were
“initiated” into the youth group. They were dressed in new white shirts with
the UCC symbol on them. The “old” youth robed the “new” youth with these shirts
and then were hugged and congratulated by the youth, pastors and deacons. Why
do we in the Global North not mark these important stages of our lives with
more celebration and recognition?
The offering collection is a highlight of worship! It begins
with song and dance and ends with a fabulous tossing of the coins into the
basket. Churches or zones are called forth individually so that each one can
display their own, independent act of giving. It is a time of celebrating! There are smiles on people’s face, there is
joy in the air with song and dance, and giving is truly an act of worship. Some
folks even join the dance line more than one time to give again. There is so
much to learn from our African family when it comes to giving.
Gandhi said, “give all, gain all.” And this is what our
brothers and sisters here in Mozambique are doing in worship. They give all of
what little they have to gain all…to gain Christ, to worship our living God,
and to be a part of community that sings and dances together, despite the
What would happen to our Disciples and UCC churches in
American if we could experience, learn and live out the cheerful act of giving
from our African family? If we could
lose ourselves in worship, letting go of our inhibitions and truly celebrate,
being led by the Spirit in song and dance to “give all” and “gain all”? I think
it would change us as individuals, thereby changing our churches and our
communities. What if?
Revs. Jon and Dawn Barnes
Jonathan and Dawn
Barnes serve with the Mozambique Synod of the United Congregational Church of
Southern Africa, based in Maputo, Mozambique. Dawn serves as an HIV and AIDS
Coordinator and Jon serves as project and development officer.