Monthly Archives: January 2018

‘I will raise for them a prophet’

 “I will raise up for them a prophet like you… I myself will call to account anyone who does not listen to my words that the prophet speaks in my name.” (Deut 8:18-19)

And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself. (Luke 24:27)

 God foresaw a crisis when the people of Israel expressed the fear to hear God speak to them directly. When God spoke, ‘the people saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpet and saw the mountain in smoke, they trembled with fear. They stayed at a distance and said to Moses, “Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die.”’ (Exodus 20:18-19). The crisis was not immediate but in the long term; Moses would hear from God and speak to the people for as long as he was alive. He asked God what would happen to them much later after Moses is dead. It was at this point that God promised to raise for his people another prophet like Moses.

Moses was a prophet of great stature. He spoke with God face to face like a friend, and led Israel through the most profound deliverance and journey out of the Egyptian bondage. He wrote the Law as instructed by God and left for Israel a timeless piece of writing that is still read widely today – the Torah (the first five books of the Bible). He is acknowledged by Moslems, Judaism and Christians as the greatest prophet of the Old Testament. How would the people now live and relate with God in the absence of Moses? In promising to ‘raise for them a prophet’, God solved this problematic crisis – at least theoretically. Indeed he was a prophet that none other ever matched, until Jesus Christ appeared. Jesus Christ was the fulfillment of this promise.

Another crisis hit Jerusalem and all Israel when the high hope in Jesus Christ was shattered; he was crucified, died and was buried! Finally many had hoped He was that prophet. On the road to Emmaus, two men were lamenting and a stranger joined them; they took opportunity to dispel his ‘ignorance’ by recounting how they ‘had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel’ (Luke 24:21). But three days later, the gloom of his death was getting more devastating with the news that even his body had gone missing! All this drama was necessary; indeed Jesus Christ was that prophet. He began with Moses, and explained from all prophets and all scriptures concerning himself. We thank God for that episode that brought the good news to us too.

The promise had an addendum which calls for action: God will ‘call to account anyone who does not listen to my words that the prophet speaks’. We are called upon to listen to the Lord Jesus Christ so that our accountability before God will be clean. He amplified the requirements of our God regarding righteousness and justice, love for God and love for one another; in whatever vocation or assignment, prepare your accountability.

 

 

 

 

‘Come, follow me’: Jesus Calling All

“Look, here is water. What can stand in the way of my being baptized?” … Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him. (Acts 8:36-38)

 Behold, another gentile receives Jesus Christ – a great enlightening revelation that brings lasting joy! The breeze of the Epiphany season continues to blow gently and draw men and women to salvation. The commemoration of the revelation of Jesus Christ to gentiles now comes alive among the Africans with the story of the Ethiopian Eunuch in Acts 8:26-39. Was it called a dark continent? Still described as third world, “good in nothing else but making noise, dancing, marrying many wives, alcoholism, witchcraft, pretending in church, jealousy, fighting and complaining of bad leadership”; more description: “the black man is a symbol of poverty, mental inferiority, laziness… [is] born a beggar, grows a beggar, falls sick a beggar and dies a beggar.” Is Africa cursed?

True or false, these are descriptions of men; but what is the view of God the Creator? To this Africa, the words of Isaiah 9:2 are now directed figuratively: ‘The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.’ For our evidence, let us visit the experience of the Ethiopian eunuch: For two reasons he could not ‘draw near to God’ – he could not enter the Jewish temple because he was a gentile, and because he was a eunuch. Call him an African bearing the descriptions above, yet he still made the pilgrimage to Jerusalem, perhaps to just worship God at the temple gate. However, his darkness was not because of this kind of alienation by men, but the lack of the enlightenment that Jesus brings. Now he saw the great light. The fact that this African received the miracle of salvation is encouragement that there is hope for this continent even today.

The eunuch’s experience was dramatic: Philip was brought to him by the Holy Spirit – Jesus was calling him somehow, even as He called the apostles directly; after the sweet fellowship that ended in his conversion and baptism, Philip disappeared! The diligence with which the eunuch pursued his reading, the earnestness with which he inquired of Philip, and the promptness with which he asked for baptism – all testify to the lofty nature of his character, that we should emulate. This saying is true: ‘Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.’

It is also good to know Africans are shining on all the six continents as stars in sports, great leaders and executives, journalists, professors in universities and even preachers. There is some light shining on Africa; but the great light that should be celebrated is the light of Jesus who calls everyone to follow Him. He may use different circumstances, but Jesus is clearly calling all, ‘Come, follow me’, and you do well to hear and heed His voice.

 

 

 

 

Revelation and Hope for Restoration

 “Follow me,” Jesus told him, and Levi got up and followed him. While Jesus was having dinner at Levi’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were eating with him and his disciples. (Mark 2:14-15)

 What do you do when your own family members write you off? When you are labeled and isolated as a black leg, and so locked up in that state by your job and the state powers that be, what do you do? Levi who is later called Matthew was possibly a subordinate officer, serving under the ‘publicani’, or superior officials who farmed the Roman taxes in the territory of Herod Antipas. As such he must have had some education, and doubtless in addition to the native Aramaic must have been acquainted with the Greek. His ready acceptance of the call of Jesus shows that he must have belonged to that group of publicans and sinners, who in Galilee and elsewhere looked longingly to Jesus; and to him, Jesus was revealed.

As part of the chain of that was a compulsory tool for the imperial Roman government to oppress and subdue the Jews partly through the taxation system, tax collectors were not popular. Worse still, many of them collected more than they were required to, perhaps for their own benefit, and this further put pressure on the Jewish common people; this is evidenced in John the Baptist’s sermon to them when they came to be baptized: ‘Don’t collect any more than you are required to.’ (Luke 3:13). As a result, Levi and his workplace colleagues were isolated for serving the wrong regime, for corruption, and for associating with the mafia and the oppressor. They were labeled sinners together (and comparably) with prostitutes. What a great wonder that to such Jesus was revealed as Saviour and Teacher!

He was revealed to the tired and hopeless shepherds, and they enjoyed the heavenly choir singing sweet night carols; He was revealed to three wise Easterners, who travelled all the way to worship with joy; now Jesus Christ is revealed to the ‘black legs’ of the Jews, and dines with them to draw them to salvation. The picture of a broken society is not difficult to construct from the Palestine into which Jesus was born; and the hope that He was to them, He is to us today – in the brokenness and difficulties of our day. He is ready to be revealed to the locals and foreigners, to the lowly and the highly placed, to the oppressed and the oppressor and their agents.

In his fellowship, Jesus’ disciples embodied a restoration that was being announced to the society; among them were people from all walks of life and fortunate and unfortunate backgrounds. The revelation of Jesus Christ is our hope for restoration today in Uganda and in the World. He welcomes all who respond to the call, ‘Follow me’. Will you decide now to follow Jesus? He is our hope for restoration.

 

 

 

 

Revelation and Hope for Recovery

 Then young women will dance and be glad, young men and old as well. I will turn their mourning into gladness; I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow (Jer 31:13). 

 The Chaplain who has served longest at Kakumba Chapel, Rev Canon Ephraim Musiime was promoted to glory two years ago on 07th Jan 2016. Musiime broke ground for a phenomenal growth of this Chapel both physically and in ministry frontiers during a period that saw Kyambogo Institutions grow and merge in 2011 into the present University. He served as Chaplain from 1992 to 2005. He went on to serve as Diocesan Secretary and ministered even more widely, especially encouraging young ministers under training at College and in initial placements. His legacy is etched in both physical infrastructural developments he pioneered and in the hearts of many people he blessed through his intentional ministry.

At this same time, we also celebrate the life of the former Archbishop Livingstone Mpalanyi-Nkoyoyo who passed on just two days ago; he blessed the world with his unique gifts and passion for serving the Lord – a great example that we must behold and emulate. It is during such celebrations that we must remember hope, a message that comes to light in Jeremiah’s four chapters (30-33) after 29 chapters of gloomy prophetic discourse. Now we read in Chapter 31, ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness’ and ‘I will turn their mourning into gladness’, plus comfort for Rachel who was weeping for her children (v.3, 13, 16). Our hope comes from God, and His promises are trustworthy and real.

I was sorely attacked by our leaders recently. I was attacked for speaking out on perils affecting my people for which God is concerned. In fact, the concerned Church in her different embodiments was criticized. In difficult times people look to every possible direction for hope; in Uganda today, those who do not see the challenges and failures with our systems of governance and public administration feel the pinch through economic difficulties incarnated through high prices of goods, high cost of doing business and high cost of services that would have been otherwise provided by the government to which Ugandans and well-wishers contribute through taxes and donations.

Like the miraculous revelation that came to the wise gentile men of the East who came to worship the new born King in Judea, the Lord Almighty is in the business of revealing his salvation to unsuspecting peoples. Let us not lose hope, but hold onto the God of light and all comfort and hope – even for the betterment of our nation and the region at large. Let us incessantly call on the God of our salvation, and He will heal our wounds and heal our nation.

 

Give thanks to the Lord

 “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior… His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation. He has performed mighty deeds with his arm.” (Luke 1:46-51)

 Why would you give thanks? King David considered giving thanks because he was now ‘settled in his palace and the LORD had given him rest from all his enemies’ (2Sam 7). Mary gave thanks because he saw in the events around her and Elizabeth that God’s ‘mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation’. On this last day of the year, it is a good think to look back and count your blessings, and find reason to give thanks to the Lord. Attitude matters: there are plenty of reasons to complain – you can find a thousand reasons to complain about your job, your family or neighbours, the government, or even to complain about God; but this comes down to attitude, and complaining only makes you sick. Gratitude instead breathes new health into your life, and there are plenty of reasons – real reasons to give thanks.

As you reflect on your own life, the examples of Mary and David are intriguing. Mary’s encounter with the angel was a great one, and in itself had wonderful promises and privileges – of mothering the Messiah! But when you think about it some more, Mary’s relationship with Joseph was in great danger, and her reputation in society was not only going to go down, but she actually risked being stoned to death for infidelity! I wonder how long it took between Joseph’s discovering Mary was pregnant and the time an Angel counseled him to go ahead with the relationship – whether it took days or weeks or even months, it must have been deeply troubling on both sides. All this was reality in Mary’s life, yet she was still able to sing a thanksgiving psalm that we still sing today. Some blessings may come with apparent danger, but you are encouraged to trust God and give thanks.

And as for David, it is his method of giving thanks that beats every mind that bothers to think about it. Even God was embarrassed and taken by surprise! He had to come and express his shock to the prophet Nathan in a long speech: How can David build for me a House, yet my last building instructions were for a mere Tent? I interpret what David conceived in his heart to have been so large an offering that God could not remain silent about his embarrassment. In human terms such expressions would be accompanied with tears of joy and a breaking voice in shock of a large gift brought by an unsuspecting friend. God quickly delivered profuse blessings even before the offering was delivered; this part of the blessing would even outlive David: ‘Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever.’ All these highlight that it is a good and noble thing to give thanks, and to give thanks intentionally with a selfless gift.