One part of the weekly worship service that I'm gladly responsible for is the Alpha discussion. We've been watching Alpha Express videos for the sermon part of the service, and afterward, I lead the discussion. This week, the message was on prayer. Afterward, I explained one way to pray called "Palms up, Palms down." The idea is to turn your palms face-down and tell God all the things you are letting go into his care-- your sins, your anxieties, your responsibilities, your work, etc. Then you turn your palms face up and tell him all the things you are receiving gladly from him-- forgiveness, a new character, peace and joy, the Holy Spirit, blessings, his will, etc. It has always been a special way to pray for me. To make sure everyone got the idea, we first made a list on the whiteboard of all the kinds of things you would let go of and receive. They understood far more quickly and better than I anticipated. The prayer time was sweet in that it felt intimate and genuine. I was in my element-- leading and teaching in a classroom/workshop type setting about things that matter deeply to me.
A second moment. Since our Alpha conversation on the Bible on Friday, the "Biblical illiteracy" of this community has been heavy on my heart. On Sunday, I developed a "Reading Guide" booklet for the Gospel of John that I hope to use in a number of ways. It divides John into 54 short readings (about 20 verses each) and has 1-3 thinking questions for each reading with space to write answers. This morning my housekeeper and I started working on it together, beginning with John 1:1-18. She was super enthusiastic and says she wants to read the Bible but doesn't find motivation or make sense of it on her own. The questions for this passage were "What does it mean to 'recieve him' or 'believe in his name'?" and "What is the difference between the law of Moses and the grace of Jesus?" (both coming out of the reading). We had a great conversation about the two, and she really seemed to understand well how Jesus opened up a new way for salvation for us apart from the law. I for one was excited. We are planning to spend 10 minutes at the beginning of every morning reading and answering questions.
I am still in awe of what God is doing around and through me here in Puerto Supe. I feel like these were all the things I always wanted to do, both at Davidson and in Charlotte, but found so much difficulty in pursuing, both because of my timidity and the responses of people around me. I think in part I have been living in communities over-saturated with "religion" (although maybe not real faith) until now. In Puerto Supe, no one has anything to do, for one, so they're thrilled to come to a prayer meeting. Also they just haven't had the opportunity before to learn about Jesus. It's something new, and people are eager to find out what all the hubub is about.