The Meaning I Found in This Wedding War Dance — Part Deux

The Reflection surrounding the Haka video last week definitely touched a nerve. It sparked many comments and was shared across the country. To those who responded, thank you — I hear your hearts.

In my travels, I interact with people from a variety of Christian streams: Catholics, Anglicans, Charismatics, Evangelicals, Pentecostals — and there is something interesting about Protestants in general when I ask this question: Do you need Church to be a Christian? Most of them say: “No. I have the Bible, I have Jesus, that’s all I need.”

Think about that for a second. How do you feel about that?

For my part, it makes me sad. It seems that belonging to a community is optional for us Protestants, yet, paradoxically, there is an ache in our hearts to be known, to be seen, and to belong.

This is one of the reasons why the Haka video touched me so deeply.

It felt like the dancers were saying: ”We will stand with you. In this journey, through the perils of life, we will stand and fight with you; we will protect you.”

The others at the wedding could not simply stand by and watch, the power drew them in and they had to be a part of it. Then, at the end, the way each of the men came and greeted the bridegroom with their foreheads touching was so gentle in contrast to the power of the Haka; it made me wish I was part of it all.

As I reflected on all this, it sparked a memory for me from my homeland. In the Zulu language, the greeting is “Sawubona” which means, “I see you.”  The response is “Ngikhona” which means, “I am here.”

There is a depth that is lost in the English translation this greeting implies: “I am because you see me.”

There is a Zulu saying that is often quoted in South Africa — don’t even try to say it — “Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu.” Basically, it means, “A person is a person because of other people.”

I get the messiness and, sometimes, the complete insanity of community. In truth, I have often wanted to call for the jacket with the sleeves that tie in the back, but consider what would it be like to be in a community that let you know: “”We will stand with you. In this journey, through the perils of life, we will stand with you.”

The Haka revealed just how much my heart longs for that. Maybe you do too?

So now I am giving you a new commandment:
Love each other.
Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.
Your love for one another will prove to the world
that you are my disciples.
                                                 — John 13:34-35 (NLT)

The Demented Drummer Strikes Again

Last Friday night, the demented drummer returned to my chest and I found myself back in the ER.

After my first episode of atrial fibrillation, I had hoped that it would be a good long time before anything like this happened again, but it was not to be.

Once again, lying on the gurney was a time of anxiety, mixed with more anxiety, and then a dash of anxiety to top it off.

I found myself doing what many people have done in similar circumstances: I became aware that I was trying to bargain with God: “If you get me through this, I’ll sell everything I own, give it to the poor, move to Borneo, live among the indigenous peoples, preach the gospel, adopt 35 foster children, and fast for 40 days every month — just get me through this, please!”

Truth be told, even while I was doing that, I knew it was pointless. As the anxiety reduced to a dull roar and I was able to compose myself somewhat, I found myself asking what I had done with my life. If it was all to end now, would I be okay with that?

Time is an interesting thing. One minute, one second, can make all the difference. In my case, at 9: 28 p.m., I was fine — at 9:29 p.m., I wasn’t. Things can change that quickly.

We’re in the season of Lent. In this season, we are asked to look at our weakness and our sinfulness, but we are also asked to ponder our mortality. There is going to be a minute that will be the last minute we draw breath on this side of heaven.

So, how are we living?

This is not meant to be morbid or maudlin — this is a season to ponder:

What really matters?  What matters most? What are we are holding on to that we should just let go

Blessings and peace to you.

From beneath the clutter of our lives,

we call out to You, God.

It is not so much that we have chosen evil

as that we have pursued little goods

and lesser gods,

until we have lost our way.

                                                — Ted Loder

 

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.

— Galatians 5:1