I just finished three months of speaking at churches in the US and a common question is, "what have I learned form the church in Tanzania."
The reality is that there are so many good answers to that question but one thing I talked about over and over again is the worship in Tanzania. The worship in Tanzania is lively, charismatic, deep, and kinetic where bodies lead and bodies follow giving a physical expression of what the spirit is feeling. But what is most amazing about worship in Tanzania is that this lively, charismatic, kinetic worship does not come from a pace of overabundance and joy in the temporal world around us. This worship comes in the midst of challenges and suffering. In the middle of deprivation and mind-numbing struggle. Worship is not a celebration because a celebration is appropriate, but the worship is so powerful specifically because it is not.
There is a patience and anticipation in this worship which I am missing right now. However it is worship which I will be drawing on this Easter. When it seems like death may be closer than ever and its sting is strong. When celebrations of hundreds of thousands gathered together has become a few gathered at home. When presents, and family diners, and community wide Easter egg hunts have become small, maybe ragged, unstocked affairs. When Easter clothes are replaced by pjs. When the celebration of life is being tempered by the looming economic reality that is the perfect time to remember that the celebration of the resurrection is not just when we have reasons to celebrate, but specifically and even more powerfully when we don't.
So let's take Paul's words to heart from 1 Corinthians 15...
"Death has been swallowed up in victory.
Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?
...But thanks be to God! He gives us victory through our Lord. Jesus Christ.
Therefore, be dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain."
Let us dance, let us sing, let us celebrate, let us lift up praise, and let us continue to labor because the celebration of Easter is that we don't struggle in vain because our God is risen and Jesus reigns.