I realize my opinion might be biased, but I think my dad has an incredible ability to observe what’s going on around him and then clearly communicate it to others. His gift of observing and describing what he’s experienced has been a blessing for me and my family, as well as my dad’s co-workers, friends and others who have been reading his blog while he’s been living and working in Tanzania. In an entry he wrote today, he describes what he experienced while attending two new churches this morning. It’s a powerful story of ordinary people confessing their sinfulness and God’s incredible gift of forgiveness. Here’s what he wrote…
Dirty Knees by Tom Jolivette
This morning I attended two separate churches in Iringa – the Kihesa church and the Cathedral church. Both are large churches with straight-backed wooden pews neatly lining the sanctuary, but too close together for an overweight Minnesotan. As you shuffle into the pew, you step on the two-by-four wooden kneelers, barely lifted above the tiled floor. Everyone entering the pew slides their shoes across those kneelers.
Shoes scruff up the kneelers, depositing the remnants of weekly journeys. Journeys through the red soil of Africa. Telltale signs of manure from the livestock. Deposits from the market streets and shops in Iringa. Dust from homes and roadsides and the shuffling up the hill to church. As we walk across those kneelers into the pew, the busyness of our week is ground into the wood.
And then it’s time for confession. We kneel, our knees firmly planted in the grime from our shoes, the grime from our lives, and we ask God to forgive us. With dirty knees, stained by the journeys of our week, we together cry to God for help, for a new start, for a clean slate.
The pastor proclaims words of forgiveness from God. All is forgiven. All is forgotten. We rise, dust the dirt from our knees and leave renewed.