"O come, let us worship and bow down, let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker! For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand." These words of Psalm 95 have been echoing in my head during the season of Advent, and now Christmas. What a gift it is to be called the people of God - to be the sheep of God's hand!
Our joyous Christmas worship reminds me of the abundance of gifts that we North American Lutherans have received from our Tanzanian partners. At the top of the list is the gift of exuberant and joyful worship. After our first Sunday morning at Mkwawa Lutheran Church in 1999, one of the American students asked me, "Are you sure these people are Lutherans? They're dancing in church!" My answer was a joyful, "Yes!" In the years since that first trip, I've noticed that those in my congregation who have experienced worship at Mkwawa and Kigamboni have brought that joy into our worship.
Gracious hospitality is another amazing gift from our hosts in Iringa. Invitations into Tanzanian homes are numerous and the hospitality is beyond outstanding. It's humbling to receive the best someone has to offer, knowing that we have done nothing to deserve it except to show up. We remember those visits and recognize that through these friends we experience a taste of God's grace that prompts us to generously share what we have with others.
All the best gifts have a lasting presence. This is true of the gift of this partnership as we continue to pray for each other, work together on projects, and visit each other. The partnership grows stronger each year because of these gifts. As we move into the New Year, we thank and praise God for our friends in Iringa and for the gifts they share with us - and most of all - for the gift they are to us in the Saint Paul Area Synod.
Scholarship & Education Committee Chair