What a difference..

.. two years makes!  It’s two years since I was in our link diocese of Masvingo.  This is the youngest of the five Zimbabwean Anglican dioceses.  In fact the diocese is 15 years old this year and we will be celebrating the tenth anniversary of the Cathedral link next year.  This morning we left the Diocese of Central Zimbabwe and drove south to the city of Masvingo.

Bishop Godfrey and his wife, Albertina, met us outside St Michael’s Cathedral.  It was great to see so many friends waiting for us to arrive.  What was planned for the morning were opportunities for Bishop Godfrey and Bishop Christopher to meet, for me to meet Fr Gerald, the Cathedral Rector (the Bishop is acting as Dean at the present time), for Jane Steen, the Archdeacon of Southwark, to meet with the 6 archdeacons from this diocese and, finally, for Wendy Robins, Fr Fungayi and me to meet as we had all been in Jerusalem in November.  These meetings were fantastically useful and especially in learning that we are all facing the same challenges, but to different degrees.

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Bishop Godfrey at the bore hole

 

In the afternoon we headed out of town to the Transfiguration Centre.  This is a food security project which aims to give skills to villagers in farming and animal husbandry.  There are fields of maize, sheds of chickens, pigs and goats.  We came to this centre two years ago and this is a project that the congregation at Southwark Cathedral has been supporting.  When we were last here the bore hole needed to be sunk to a deeper level to find water, the fields were empty and the project needed to up its game.  There has been a transfiguration! The bore hole with its pump was working; the maize was tall and full of heads of corn; the chicks were healthy, the pigs well looked after and the goats delightful.  A tractor is there to make farming more efficient and in one of the chicken houses a new Anglican congregation gathers for worship in the months when the chickens are not in the shed.  It really is wonderful to see all of this.

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The chicken shed church

 

What was particularly encouraging was that in addition to growing the maize, healthy and strong, a new congregation is also being grown.  I was reminded of a passage from St Mark’s Gospel

‘The earth produces of itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head. But when the grain is ripe, at once he goes in with his sickle, because the harvest has come.’ (Mark 4.28-29)

Jesus is not just talking about farming but about building the kingdom, growing the kingdom and seeing a good harvest.  We saw that happening – food security being addressed but also doing what we are called to do, to make Christ known and bring his people to worship.

Lord of the harvest,
for the harvest of the field,
for the harvest of the kingdom,
we thank you.
Amen.

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