‘Where are the young people?’ That was my Tanzanian friend’s reaction to her first service at St Martin’s. She was untouched by the beauty of the choir or the wisdom of the sermon. She simply missed the chance to dance and was genuinely confused by the average age of our congregation. I have now been to her village church outside Dar es Salaam – a long, sweaty, loud service full of dancing, speaking in tongues and dramatic prayers for healing. It was uncomfortable and disturbing but it also made me aware of how safe and westernised my image of God often is.
In the rather strange story of the magi, scholars from another country and another religion place their trust in a star and journey to worship a foreign baby, bringing gifts that reveal him to be the embodiment of God’s love. Yet, his own people cannot grasp the passion and apparent foolishness of this love, and respond with fear and violence.
God is not comfortable and safe. Sometimes we need people with a different background and perspective to remind us, challenge us, and stretch open our vision of God.
So, as we begin this new year and new decade, where are you seeking God? Who might reveal God’s love to us? And when God meets us and challenges us in new ways and through unexpected people, will we respond in fear or worship?