Saturday, September 11, 2010

A new twist on worship

I once took a "what religion are you" quiz online - sorry I've long lost the link - and it told me I'm a Quaker. I was quite happy with that designation, as I have a high level of respect for Quakers. One of my favourite aspects of their creed is Pacifism - avoidance of all things that smell remotely of violence. I don't like violence very much, and by association, I'm not a 2nd amendment fan either: I don't like guns.

But I'm a Christian, and I love the fact that Christianity is a global religion, and it's fun to meet new Christians in new parts of the world. So when I was invited to church yesterday I eagerly accepted. The church was the local International Episcopalian/Anglican church (every city seems to have one), and it met on the United Nations compound. It turns out the vast majority of the congregation was Nigerian, so it had a distinctive African feel - music, dance, loud long sermon and everything.

As the opening hymn was starting, a man in uniform (most of these Nigerians were in uniform, as they are part of the peacekeeping forces) took his seat a few rows ahead of me. He had a gun slung over his back. I restrained my shock and kept mouthing the words as he blithely took the gun off and set it under his seat. It was twice the size of his seat and the barrel was facing me, but I figured he wasn't in church to kill. He must be on duty but wanted to take some time out to worship; I could hardly hold that against him.

But as my eyes wandered around the room and more Nigerian soldiers entered, I came to realise that there were at least 30 guns on the floor of that room. The service didn't feel violent, or confrontational, or any of the other adjectives I'd usually associate with guns. Even so, I had to force myself to ignore them in order to not feel too discomfited by them.

God and Guns, who woulda thought?


emily wierenga said...

hi beautiful! i'm so excited you're going to join imperfect prose... all we do is, each week, we link up a post that we feel is imperfect/celebrates our brokenness/redemption, and/or features some art/photos/or just plain old prose, and we put the URL in the link spot so others can find our post, and then we read and comment on others... it's such an uplifting community, kati. i know you'll love it. i normally open it up on wednesday nights. can't wait to see you there. let me know if you need more help. meanwhile, read and enjoy what others have contributed! xo

Anonymous said...

God and Guns - well, but think of the Crusades (before guns I know, but violence is violence, isn't it?) and think of all the long history of violence that has been perpetrated on the world in the name of the Christian God, even Christians against Christians, as during the Reformation...

Kati patrianoceu said...

Ah but i guess then the question is do guns=violence? It makes me uncomfortable to think that maybe not, but those soldiers really seemed to praising Jesus peacefully....?

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