In the English language the word dedication has a couple of definitions…
Last Sunday we dedicated a church – the Udoro sub-parish of our sister congregation, Mudio Lutheran Church. For some, it was a once in a generation experience, for others once in a lifetime.
In the midst of the people, the Bishop prayed, cut the ribbon, unveiled the “cornerstone” plaque, knocked on the door (as is customary) and blessed the holy places (altar, pulpit, etc.). In a few short minutes the church was dedicated. We spent the rest of the day celebrating!
At breakfast this morning (Thursday), I spent time in conversation with a member of another Nebraska congregation. He asked me what I loved most about mission work and coming to Tanzania. I found myself talking in terms of things I take for granted, yet this seemed like new insight for him. I spoke about how important our partnership with Mudio is to Sheridan. I said that Tanzanians have an experience of Christianity that we desperately need. Since this was new theology for him, I suddenly found myself a bit concerned that perhaps I haven’t spoken this language enough at home. So here is my reminder to you.
You see, Tanzanians have a dedication to their faith that far exceeds that of the average American. Their dedication is the basis for what we receive in our relations as two communities. I believe that Tanzanians live by faith each day and that faith is a tremendous example for us.
Lest we forget, here is what their dedication looks like. The average Tanzanian lives off of about $1 per day. In spite of this – and perhaps because of it – giving to the church is expected in their society. Each person makes a financial offering and almost always their giving, by percentage, far exceeds that of ours. More than simply their generosity, it is their joy is ever-present. They love to laugh and they love life, despite all of its toil and scarcity of material things.
What I hope that we, as the congregation of Sheridan, will never believe is that “we built that church building for them.” We need to remain aware that they, as a community, actually provided a strong portion of the financial gifts to empower this project. They are far more dedicated than we would likely choose to believe. And as your pastor I can assure you that their dedication is truly humbling.
So we dedicated a church on Sunday… built on dedicated lives from two communities half a world apart. How amazing that we are one in Christ. How amazing that our main bond is a spiritual one. Let us be dedicated to receive the very best from one another.