Posted by: thewhitesintokyo | October 5, 2008

The moon and vanilla Oreos

Tonight, I (Brad) got the chance to join the Tokyo Union Church Evening Praise Team. The service was intimate and exactly what I needed after a long and busy day yesterday.

I’ll remember two particular things from tonight’s service. One was a great metaphor, and the other was a hilarious, but meaningful introduction from a charming man from Ghana.

First, the guest speaker spoke about the importance of light in scripture, referring especially to the first bit of the Gospel of John and also to Psalm 119. She provided one metaphor that stuck out to me- that of Christians being akin the moon.

When we were out walking through the gates of our apartment last night, we could see clearly because of the moonlight shining through the trees, giving us just enough light to see our next step. When I was in Argentina, I daringly went white-water rafting at midnight during a full moon. During the few moments of peaceful drifting, we could see the Andean canyon in a totally different way than during the day before. However, the speaker reminded me, the moon does not provide its own light. Myths from many cultures and scientists for centuries thought that was so, but we learned that the sun is actually the provider and creator of that light. The moon simply reflects the light toward the Earth. The moon is not the origin, its more of a vessel.

In the same way, our lives, our reactions to those around us, our attitudes and choices, are reflections of God. God is the ultimate source of unending love, unconditional peace, and uninhibited Callie-like joy. The woman who sang next to me was from Ghana, and her frequent improvisatory praises and shouts of “Yes, Lord,” absolutely reflected God to me tonight. I can only pray that my life in some way reflects the One that gave me this life, just like the moon and its light.

The second memorable moment of the night was when the leader of the service, who is also from Ghana, introduced me to the congregation. I had already met many of these folks in the weeks before, but this was the first time I had played djembe (a goat-skin drum from Ghana) with the worship team. In a voice that rang of the deep but benevolent voice of Mufassa (in The Lion King), he held up my hands to the congregation and made an announcement.

A slight grin began to grow on his face, and he said, “These hands may look pale and white to you. (pause) But they are black inside. (another pause) They carry the rhythms of Ghana. He is just a light-skinned African brother!” With this, he and his wife let out a belly-laugh, and the rest of the congregation joined in as well. They haven’t had percussion in a while for their contemporary service, and people were very thankful to have someone playing their beautiful, hand-carved Ghanian djembe to give the service a little extra rhythm.

All in all, it was a wonderful evening. It’s amazing to worship with people from all around the globe, and I still thank God that he led us to Tokyo Union Church.

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