The fourth of July was just another day here in South Africa; though we did meet “the boys” for wings at Hooters here in Johannesburg. The Americans all wore red, white, and blue and the waitress wished us a happy Independence Day.
Welcome to those who agreed to hear my stories. I hope you will let me know what you think.
I also added people I thought would like to keep in touch. I hope I was right. If not, let me know.
My One Adventure
On Sunday Steve needed to work so I decided to attend church alone. I wanted to make an initial effort to meet some people. I choose a large church about 5 minutes down the road and showed up for the late morning service.
My First Surprise
As I pulled into the parking lot I rolled down my window and told the young man directing traffic that I was new and needed direction.
“You can park in the disabled parking,” he told me.
“I am not disabled”, I told him honestly.
He hesitated a moment and then with a bright smile he said “But you are old”
I was surprised but his smile was so sincere, as if we had together discovered something happy, I had to agree.
I followed his directions but found the road to the disabled parking to be blocked by cones so I pulled into an available parking space nearby. As I was shutting down the car, another eager young man came up to me and offered to direct me to the disabled parking about 20 yards away.
“I am not disabled” I said again, “I can walk.”
He looked doubtful but allowed me to walk unaided into the church.
As surprising as it was to be called out as old, the bigger surprise waited for me in the church.
God Re Branded
Once inside I was directed to the auditorium which turned out to be a theater large enough to seat 800 people. The ”altar” was a stage with a seven member rock band and three huge multimedia screens.
The service began with two long Christian rock numbers. The words to the songs were projected onto the overhead screens along with flashing, ever changing video images of the band and the congregation. It had the feel of a rock concert or a ball game. I was expecting to see a Christian version of the Kiss Cam, like at an American baseball game.
Here is a video to help you get a feel of the experience
As we were standing, arms raised in praise, singing along with the band, a tray came through the crowd with unleavened bread and tiny cups of juice. Everyone took some and held on to it as we sang. When the song was done, the preacher, said
“Okay, now let’s all partake together.”
And altogether we downed our unconsecrated communion.
Conveniently, there was a tiny cup holder on the back of the seat in front of me to hold my tiny, empty communion cup.
After the singing, in which everyone participated enthusiastically, not at all like the mumbled hymns I am used to, there was a multi-media presentation promoting the church’s “connection” groups. These are smaller groups of special interests to help people connect. The groups are identified by life stage and by participant age. The “mature” adult groups topped out at age 40 which helps explain why I was considered ancient to the point of being disabled.
I can’t decide if I will return to try an earlier service, in case the church elders are early risers, or try another church all together. I have to admit, I did not feel the presence of God in that flashing neon auditorium; on the other hand, I was entertained.
We leave tomorrow for Gaborone, Botswana, home of Precious Ramotswe heroine of the #1 Ladies Detective Agency book series. This is a quick, last minute emergency trip to reset Steve’s visa. Our planned trip to Mozambique was rescheduled to accommodate Steve’s work deadlines but it turned out that we have to leave the country by tomorrow for Steve to be legally in this country going forward, so, at the last minute, we arranged this trip to Gaborone.