Thank you for so many messages via email, Facebook, WhatsApp and phone. It ensured we knew that, far away as we are, you were thinking of us on this special day. Rest assured that – while missing you all – we had a great time once we had positively embraced the fact that this was going to be a different Christmas without our family, and we should enjoy it for what it was!
We were up sharp for the earliest (08:30 start) and longest (3 hours duration with 1 hour sermon) Christmas Day service that we have ever been to. [Note Mark Howson: don’t get any ideas!] However it was also one of the most joyous of Christmas Day services as the people of Limbe ZEC welcomed us in, made us feel so welcome, and in scripture, music, song, drama and dance made their celebration of Christ’s birth a very African one.
We were touched when Brother Victor Zuze changed plans and gave his lively and thought provoking sermon in English, with Pastor Anthony Masala doing a typically masterful interpretation into Chichewa that seemed to reflect every nuance of tone and gesture.
Victor is EBCoM trained and, given my academic interest in the homiletics of Malawi preachers, I was very impressed at the way Victor combined sound exegesis with the passionate, orally emphatic, preaching style that connects with the soul of so many Malawi listeners. Indeed his perspective on what we could learn from four groups in the Christmas story (Shepherds, priests/teachers, Wise Men, and Herod) concerning how to celebrate Christmas was challenging, thought provoking, and memorable.
When we eventually got back to the zm guest house we decided to invite the on-duty guard, Kondwani, to join us for Christmas dinner. We had great fun introducing this lively Christian brother to the new experience of roast potatoes, Christmas pudding and custard (not all on the same plate)! Of course it also gave us the opportunity of learning more about this articulate and energetic man’s story. We never fail to be humbled, amazed and encouraged by our Malawi brothers and sisters as they joyously walk with Christ through so much hardship and adversity.