This is a day of new beginnings, time to remember, and move on… With these words, hymn writer/poet Brian Wren challenges us to think back and then move forward.
For me, “time to remember” brings thoughts of thanksgiving for Malani Watson and her family in my little country church and in UMW. Relationships (and making disciples) do not happen overnight. Close to nine years ago, my niece “signed the papers" to sponsor Malani’s journey to citizenship. Malani came from Zambia and had been living and working in the US for many years. She studied, took the citizenship test, was sworn in on November 21, 2014. Our church family celebrated with her and another immigrant member on January 17, 2015.
On August 20, 2018, we all celebrated the birth of Malani’s third child, a son she named Dalitso Niza Watson. Every child is important, but in little country churches that don’t have many children present, maybe we’re even more aware of how important the children are. Malani’s oldest daughter Bupe (pronounced Wu-pay) has been attending “unstoppable” events the last few years. It was wonderful to have Malani and Bupe attend the UMW Annual Meeting October 27, and bring Dalitso. Bupe assisted with the meeting by installing new conference officers.
On the first Sunday of Advent, folks from our congregation decorated the church after morning worship. Our men had brought the trees and decorations up from the basement, including a manger that would hold a ceramic baby Jesus. As I walked past that manger in the narthex, I did a double-take and thought how life-like the baby was. It took an instant for me to realize the baby was Dalitso taking a nap while his family helped to decorate. Scripture tells of the baby Jesus being wrapped in cloths, but many ceramic images have the baby with arms wide open to remind us that Jesus welcomes all.
We are blessed to have Malani and Bill and their children, Bupe, ChishaBetty and Dalitso in our church. The diversity they provide is strikingly beautiful and helps us expand our worldview. We are also blessed to have Malani as the new president of our UMW. Her enthusiasm for the church, UMW and Mission u is infectious.
The words of Brian Wren's hymn continue…
This is a day of new beginnings, time to remember, and move on, time to believe what love is bringing, laying to rest the pain that’s gone.
For by the life and death of Jesus, God’s mighty Spirit, now as then, can make for us a world of difference, as faith and hope are born again.
Then let us , with the Spirit’s daring, step from the past and leave behind our disappointment, guilt, and grieving, seeking new paths, and sure to find.
Christ is alive, and goes before us to show and share what love can do. This is a day of new beginnings; our God is making all things new.
Our denomination is caught up in a struggle of disagreement about Biblical interpretation – what does this passage mean, what is sin, how do we understand our call to discipleship. It’s easy to forget how important our relationships are. As we build those relationships, the Spirit is often at work making disciples.
It’s a helpful to remember the gift of a baby and the love that gift is all about. Thank you God…