Two nights ago 13 people from Downtown Church traveling to Ethiopia in September for an immersion trip gathered for an unordinary meeting in my backyard. We were joined by a few Ethiopians I recruited for the night: my father Jerman, my mother Nigatwa, my kinda-uncle Saagu, an old friend Paulos, and a new friend Dawit. The outdoor setting was necessary since the gathering was fueled by an authentic Ethiopian coffee ceremony - so authentic that the beans were roasted on-site over an open fire. The coffee was brewed over the same fire and homemade bread, an Ethiopian staple, completed the menu. While my mother roasted the coffee we listened intently as the other Ethiopians stitched together a portrait of Ethiopian culture and shared a first-hand account of the political revolution that transformed the country in the late 70’s and early 80’s.
On Sunday the sermon focused on the complexity of living in this world as a follower of Jesus even though we are citizens of another world, God’s future kingdom. We live between two worlds at the same time. Often our dual citizenship makes conflicting claims on our life that we cannot ignore. An over-simplification of this conflict results in rules and regulations that diminish our ability to experience something new and grace-filled when heaven and earth collide. If we are ok with occasional collisions beautiful things will emerge.
I am an Ethiopian and an American, a pastor and a son. Last night my worlds collided. It was beautiful.