As a part of our Christmas observations, our church held an afternoon Christmas Eve service. The day itself began with a promise of rain that did not disappoint. When the time came, Christopher and I made our way out to the open-air church building dressed in our Uganda finery. I decided to add some local style to my outfit by wearing mud boots and wrapping myself in a blanket. I love the fact that it is socially acceptable to show up to any occasion swathed in a blanket, though they did call me an old lady for doing so I also got multiple compliments on the warmth of my handshake.
Christopher and I greeted the handful of Karimojong already arrived and then sat among them on the concrete backless benches. Wazungu (white people) and Africans trickled in as the rain began to come down in earnest. I was pleasantly surprised to see that our little church was packed to the brim in spite of (maybe because of?) the inclement weather.
Like most Christmas services, we read through the scriptures describing and surrounding Christ’s birth and sang Christmas hymns. The first half of the service was accompanied by whipping wind and pouring rain. I will admit that I was thoroughly distracted by the awesome show of God’s power whirling around us as we worshiped. The immensity of Jesus’ humiliation in stepping down out of heaven where the rains and wind find their beginning and will, to join us humans as we huddled helplessly against the gale was made more profound. His descent was from invincibility to vulnerability. Immanuel’s birth in a stable was made all the more real as dogs, goats and cows alike joined us in the church’s shelter. Then the clouds continued their march across the sky leaving the sun to shine down on a glistening landscape made the more radiant by the background of fleeing black clouds. I could see their progress as the clouds tumbled and rolled across the savannah behind our pulpit. The heavens themselves opened in exultant celebration as we closed by singing Joy to the World.
Let earth receive her king!