It’s impossible to talk about last Sunday without struggling to find the right words.
As one person said, “It’s been a long time since we’ve had young children running through the building like that”. Said while a string of young boys raced through the back door and out into the courtyard behind the church building. It wasn’t just that the Zimbabwean community swelled our numbers or stunned us with their beautiful red outfits or captivated us with their friendliness and smiles.
I have to say it – it was the vibe.
It was the whole experience. The coming together of two very different faith communities. The whole thing felt natural and right. Genuine and not contrived. Real and rejuvenating.
But it was the song that got me and also moved quite a few others to tears.
Sung in the Shona language. It began with a burst of energy, movement and pace. Drum beats focussing our attention. Song and dance wrapping themselves around each other. Like a stirring wind it gained momentum and swept us into its embrace, and we found ourselves swaying with its rhythm and poetry. After a while the tempo relaxed and released its grip. Then, with an unexpected yet mesmerising softness, the song began to caress us with its gentleness; carrying us away on the invisible wings of a prayer. Taking us to a place where neither language nor culture was a barrier. The song becoming an expression of faith flowing from the hearts and voices of a community for whom God is neither abstract nor absent, but real and present.
Such a moment cannot be engineered, and probably not produced again.
But that’s ok. It was a moment of transfiguration and we were able to share in it. The ordinary was transformed into the sublime and the only way to honour such a moment was with silence. A reverential time of stillness. A time in which two very different communities came together as one.
It’s a moment that will stay with me for a very very long time.