- The singing and dancing: Traditional dancers accompany the priest during the opening and closing processional and also help bring up the gifts at the offertory. The dancing is respectful, but also an integral part of the liturgy.
- The proclamation of the Word: Many people are a part of the Kenyan liturgy. The lectors proclaim with spirit, precision and joy as if giving their fellow congregants a precious gift.
- The homily: I have yet to learn the name of the amazing pastor who welcomed us and spoke directly into our souls, but Father’s homily was among the best I have ever heard preached. And he preached in a foreign language!
- The offertory procession: After individuals processed forward in lines (like our communion lines) to offer their tithes into locked wooden boxes, the ushers and liturgical dancers formed a line and led at least two dozen parishioners who came forward bearing literal “gifts”. Fresh fruit, huge bunches of bananas, flour, toilet paper, rice, flour, fresh bottled water, and even a live chicken were brought forward and placed at the foot of the altar to be shared with the needy. (Don’t worry – said chicken was whisked away quickly and did not have time to escape!)
- The prayers of the faith: A team of congregants came forward to offer the prayers of the faithful. This and so many other liturgical roles show that this congregation loves to have a part to serve in the Mass.
- Lenten reflection: After Communion and immediately before the final blessing, a short reflection by a parishioner focused on a Lenten campaign that is taking place in Meru, focusing on “Reconciliation for Peaceful Coexistence and National Integration”. Given Kenya’s recent political upheavals, the gentleman who reflected called us, Christians, to embrace the path of peace and to be active in leading our families, communities, and society toward the path of peace.
- Lenten collection: A “second collection” took place after Communion, with parishioners again forming lines and being invited to come forward and give Lenten alms. The priest invited us to connect this almsgiving with any fasting we had done during the past week. The symbolism of this moment—of poor people giving of their meager livelihood—was not lost on me. How much work I need to do to be as generous in spirit as they are!
- Unbound Presentations: Our Meru Unbound Project Coordinator Marius introduced our fellow traveler Neveda to come forward for a brief reflection. Neveda, a member of Unbound’s Kansas City staff, spoke from her heart, thanking Father and the congregation as well as the people of Kenya for welcoming us with such open hearts.
- Angels! A group of sponsored children came forward to recite a poem for us and sing us a song. Looking at these children and knowing the hope that Unbound gives them for bright futures brought pure joy to my heart.
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Copyright 2018 Lisa M. Hendey
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Lisa M. Hendey is the founder of CatholicMom.com, a bestselling author and an international speaker. A frequent radio and television guest, Hendey travels internationally giving workshops on faith, family, and communications. Visit Lisa at LisaHendey.com or on social media @LisaHendey for information on her speaking schedule or to invite her to visit your group, parish, school or organization. Visit Lisa's author page on Amazon.com.