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Monday, June 28, 2010

Party Planning

What if you had to list 421 friends, and then plan a meal that will realistically satisfy 600?  While we've been talking about a "farewell" for the last week or two, today we finally got serious.  Pat is calling the committee together tomorrow.  Our theme is "Basaija bya Kusiima" (OK we're going to check the Lubwisi), "Testimonies of Thanksgiving" for what God has done in the last 17 years that we and Pat have lived here in Bundi, and we're pushing against a few stiff post-colonial official-function norms by having lunch first (not at 6 pm when everyone is starving and exhausted), by allowing open-mike times of praise in various categories instead of a set schedule of big-men's speeches, by inviting four choirs to present new and original local-language praise songs and dances.  It is intimidating to undertake such an event.  I'm not really sure we'll pull it off.  Prayers appreciated, for July 11.  

My Bible reading today fell on Luke 14, the parable of the great supper.  A man prepares a feast but when his servants distribute the invitations, everyone has an excuse.  Not a very encouraging reading for the day of party planning, I'm afraid.  But what is so interesting is that the excuses in Luke are the very ones offered in Deuteronomy 20 as reasonable exemptions for particular soldiers entering battle.  Since God is fighting the wars for them, He graciously sends home those with new lands, new vineyards, new wives.  Which seems to mean that in Luke 14, the guests mistake their dinner invitation for a draft-letter into battle.  The host, representing God, has prepared a sumptuous and good event.  The people, representing us, sense a risky conscription to war, and balk.  

So how does that fit in our life right now?  It's complicated, so hold on.  We're the party planners in Bundibugyo, yes, but not the host in the Kingdom story.  We're actually the invited guests.  This party, this packing, this departure, this new season of service, is what God is inviting US TO COME TO, and in my heart I'm hesitating, gathering excuses.  Because I see it as being drafted into a dangerous situation of potential loss.  When all the while God is trying to give me something good.  We think the taste will be bitter, but God knows that He's dishing out peace (Is 38 again).

And meanwhile I do think of July 11 as more like walking into the valley of death (goodbyes, tears, potentially hurting anyone left out, chaos, not enough food, rain, etc. ) than as sitting down to a great feast.  Faith still needed, even in this final stretch.

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