Dear Friends,

I write this having returned in the last few days from Ascension’s visit to Naminage.  A personal highlight was joining other Christians to worship in many diverse settings.  We joined the community at St Andrews, Naminage for an All Age service, I also preached in Busoga Diocese Cathedral Church, Bugembe.  This was the cathedral founded by the late Bishop Cyprian, who visited Ascension over twenty years ago.

We joined in with worship in the church based on the campus of Uganda’s oldest university in Kampala, a youth service at Kampala’s main cathedral and the community in the centre of Kampala’s main police barracks.  Each service was vibrant and passionate in worship, but each incredibly different.  Some were in English, some Lusoga, some Luganda.  A common theme in each was a dependency on Jesus in prayer.

As we approach the Easter season, journeying through Holy Week, the terror and betrayal of the Cross and then the celebration of Easter, we remember that the world is a different place because of Jesus.  Those few days in history are the pivot for all creation.  Everything changed.  God is renewing and remaking his creation.  Easter is the inauguration of creation mark II.

One of the things that changed is that Jesus was bringing into existence a new family.  Previously God had primarily worked though the nation of Israel.  The new community Jesus brought about is a community that is not marked out by race or nation; it’s not related to gender; it’s not about language, it has nothing to do with birth rites, class or tribe.  It is a community that has Jesus at the centre, brought about because of him and held together through him.  It’s talked about in the scriptures as his Body, his Bride and, as the family of God.

As we joined in with worship with the Church in Uganda, we were welcomed not only as honoured guests, but as family.  We were welcomed as brothers and sisters.  We were not seen as ‘other’ but as ‘part of the family’.  It is incredibly moving and humbling to be many thousands of miles from Southampton, yet to be treated as part of the family.

As we enter the Easter season, we prepare to remember and celebrate, but let us not do it on our own.  As we gather to pray, to worship, to celebrate, know that our prayers join our brothers and sisters in Naminage, in Busoga Diocese, in Uganda, across the continent of Africa and across the world, know that we are part of something bigger, something more significant, something more beautiful, something more hopeful.  It is my prayer that this perspective causes us to reflect on how vast Jesus is, on how much Jesus has done for us, and that will draw us back to praise in him worship.