(Each week I will attempt to post a story or reflection about some aspect of the work that our missional community, NieuCommunities South Africa, is currently engaged in here in Pretoria. I’ll simply attempt to answer the question, ‘What stories are you co-writing with God in South Africa, and how does this story fulfill your unique mandate to apprentice South African leaders into sustainable mission around the globe?’)
Pierre Du Plessis, a growing friend, as well as Lead Pastor at 3rd Place, my faith community in Pretoria, approached me last October asking if I would be willing to help introduce the season of Advent to our community, an eclectic group of cultural creatives, young Afrikaner families, and university students. I responded with wild and immediate enthusiasm, anticipating the explosion of creativity between a central practice of the Christian church during the Christmas season throughout the centuries merged with the distinct flavor that a group of stylists (Pierre!) and graphic designers (Janet!), all my friends, bring to the table.
What started as a simple weekly practice in lighting 3rd Place’s “Advent Wreath” (a series of scented candles scattered atop a painting ladder) and a Christmas gift to our community (a weekly series of meditations, Scripture, and spiritual practices around the Advent themes of Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love, all packaged in a simple ‘do-it-yourself’ brown bag filled with tealights) has morphed into a favorite shared memory of this past holiday season. I still shake my head in gratitude at how well received such a foreign practice was to this group of South Africans.
A few days into the New Year, I shot Pierre an email gently reminding him that whether he was aware of it or not, we had begun the practice of living within the rhythm of the liturgical church year, a series of peaks (Christmas + Easter) preceded by long seasons of deep valleys (Advent + Lent), all completely strange to the typical South African Christian. Pierre quickly responded “Let’s do this…I love the collaborative potential!”
Thus, I find myself treading upon somewhat unfamiliar territory as I help introduce my faith community (3rd Place), and my missional community (NieuCommunities), to the practices, disciplines, teachings, and heart behind walking through the calendar year in a common rhythm, participated in each year by millions of Christians in every corner of the globe. There is a growing sense that I am helping to shepherd South African Christians into a richer experience of faith intersecting with new spiritual practices.
I couldn’t be more excited to invite you to participate from afar with us in this new season of discovery and growth with the Spirit of God.
Welcome to PUBLIC MANIFEST//EPIPHANY 2011!