Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of heaven. Luke 6: 20
Blessings and woes from the “sermon on the plain”. Rev Glynn shared some of her experiences from her recent pilgrimage to Ethiopia.
She was in a huge crowd as they took part in the festival of Timcat, celebrating the baptism of Jesus, a big three day festival in Ethiopia.
In the reading Jesus was in a huge multitude, maybe Glynn’s experience was similar. She felt that the kingdom of God had come close as she was part of that crowd.
We saw photos of Ethiopia, a very barren land, and the shacks which are the shops, with the wares on the pavement. Also of the harvest of the grain, which is very very labour intensive. The cattle and donkeys walk round and round, tramping down the grain, and then the men and the boys used wooden pitchforks to separate the chaff and the grain. It is a lot of work to garner a small handful of barley.
Glynn also saw fishing in a hand made papyrus boat. The water comes in but the boat still floats!
The people are very close to the land, living materially poor lives. However the cooking is delicious, the hospitality great, the welcome warm as people smile and greet one another.
The people are poor in money but spiritually rich. Faith is woven into the Ethiopian people’s lives: there is no separation of secular and spiritual. Their homes may be shacks but their churches are beautifully built and decorated with murals. Glynn noticed that the churches were decorated with bunting in the national colours: not something we would do in the UK. Glynn tried to imagine decking the church here it on red white and blue for Christmas or Easter! In Ethiopia there is no separation of church and state. The country is 80% Christian: in a curious mix of Eastern Christian orthodox traditions and Judaism.
Glynn told us about the three day festival for Timcat, where people praise and worship continuously without sleep for 72 hours. She showed us a picture of an older man who was sat quietly reading the Bible in the midst of the crowd: sometimes we have to carve out that quiet space, make do with what we have.
Meaning for us: is our faith interwoven in our daily lives? Do we still have the enthusiasm to praise God so vibrantly and enthusiastically? Can we pare back our lives and live more simply yet more deeply?
Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Amen