By Ethan Carlson
The concepts of time and space fascinate me. The Sunday services have concluded here in the Shyria dioceses, but the worship at Church of the Redeemer (or “Redeemer Church”, as we are known in Rwanda) has only just begun. It’s already “tomorrow” in the home country of today’s preacher at Redeemer, and Bishop Mbanda is currently flying across the Atlantic, losing hours as he returns to Rwanda. We are connected and united to one another, though time and space differ.
Canon Jay preached in the cathedral this morning and Katie and I had the privilege of preaching at Saint Michael’s, Redeemer’s sister church. Within the the hour of my writing, Saint Michael’s will be lifted up during the prayers of the people at Redeemer, just as the pastors and students at Saint Michael’s prayed for Redeemer Church earlier.
As Saint Michael’s is connected to Sonrise School, it is primarily students who worship there. Katie and I preached in the first service, which is for the primary students, so the congregation was even younger. Because of age and language differences, the sermons were kept short and simple. The New Testament passage in the the lectionary landed us at Hebrews 4, where Jesus is shown to be our great high priest who understands our weaknesses through first hand experience. At times we may feel far from God, but we are invited to boldly approach his throne and receive his mercy. There is no distance or separation from God because of Christ. There are no bounds by time or space, or anything we have done or could do. The message for the students: Jesus understands; he cares; he forgives; he wants us to go to him with everything.
As we left the service to hear Canon Jay (and that title really isn’t an option here) at the cathedral, Pastor Daniel and I talked about the great gift it is to have Saint Michael’s as our sister church. It is a church of worship with a congregation of people that only have their lives to offer the Lord. The pastors have just as much reverence, care, and passion in a “church of children” as we saw in the cathedral. Time, or age, is not considered.
As we travel around the world to worship with, learn from, encourage, and be encouraged by brothers and sisters in Rwanda, and as we see the beauty of cultural differences, it becomes obvious that space and location does matter. As Redeemer lives in a state of “in between” while we wait on God for a building, the reality of time is felt as well. Still, today I am reminded that we have a God that is over it all, that we are on this journey together–students or retirees, Rwandese, American, or other nationalities–and we are all invited to approach our great high priest together.