It’s 6:30 on Sunday morning and we hear the beat of the garamut. The large slit-drum is letting everyone know that church will be soon. It will sound three more times before church commences. Bright sunshine stretches its fingers inside our bedroom; we roll over and smile underneath the mosquito net.
Kevin is preaching this morning; the headman of the church comes by to check in on him. It was simple enough when he had told the headman that he didn’t bring any pants to the village and apologized for having to preach in shorts.
And then they all start showing up with clothes.
Apparently the headman had given an announcement after church; he’d said it in Sop so we couldn’t understand. He told everyone to bless us with clothing, to show us good customs.
They know that we don’t need clothes, but they bring them anyway. Pants and skirts, dresses and shirts.
“I need them to stop bringing clothes,” I say to him a few days later. Because it is awkward and uncomfortable to receive things from people who have less than we do. But we don’t want to shame them so we continue to say, “Thank you,” with a smile and receive them.
Because this is different than getting cucumbers and watermelons, things they have in abundance. When a man gives you the shirt off his back when you know he needs it, what do you say?
How do you open your hands to the gift given when it feels so awkward?
Because it’s uncomfortable that God came down and shed His own blood for you and me; that He took our sins upon His shoulders. It’s uncomfortable that His body was broken and yet He asked the Father to forgive his oppressors. It’s uncomfortable sometimes to be loved so deeply that we can’t understand it and we certainly will never match it.
And it’s awkward that He gives grace upon grace upon grace when you and I just keep messing up. It’s awkward that when sin abounds, grace does too.
And the truth is that we often close our hearts and cross our arms to Jesus and His gifts because it feels weird to take from Him, feels strange that He keeps on giving. But the reality is this: He will never stop giving.
You cannot out-sin his grace, can’t run too far from his love; His store never runs out.
“I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit… May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.” Ephesians 3:16,19
So I embrace the words Kevin said when he answered me, “You’ll just have to get over it.” And I try too. So when the old woman comes and gives me another dress, I receive it joyfully.
The garamut sounds a week later and we sit down for church, him in his new pants and shirt, me in my new dress. And we worship amongst the givers.