After spending 2 weeks in Egypt and Kenya, I’ve decided to rethink my motorcycle riding habits. I’ve been taught to wear the proper protective gear, to obey all traffic laws, and to never put more than one passenger on the back of my bike. But in light of the motorcycle riding habits I observed in North Africa, I think I’ll lighten-up a bit on all those unnecessary rules. Here’s what I saw…
Today is Ash Wednesday, a day that begins the season of Lent for Christians. There are 40 days (minus Sundays) until Easter, and the season of Lent is a time for Christians everywhere to prepare themselves to celebrate that glorious day. Tonight, I will observe the beginning of the Lent season with my congregation by administering (and receiving) ashes on our foreheads.
Tonight, my congregation will be reminded that the Lent season is all about preparing for Easter through repentance and renewal. We will be reminded of our sin, and we will be called upon to repent. In our service tonight, we will sing together, we will recite Scripture together, we will pray together, and we will receive a cross of ashes on our foreheads. The ash will serve as a reminder of the biblical principle from Genesis 3:19 which says, “For you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” And because we are dust, and because to dust we shall return, repentance and renewal is essential. We will be reminded again tonight that full and complete reliance upon our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is essential.
The practice of placing ashes on the forehead has its roots in the Old Testament (book of Ezekiel) when an angel of the Lord was told to “Pass through the city, through Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and groan over all the abominations that are committed in it.” Tonight will be a night when we will be reminded of our sin (reminded to sigh and groan over it), and then encouraged to begin a time of remembrance and thanksgiving for the work of Christ on the cross when He – once and for all – forgave us of our sins and cleansed us from all of our unrighteousness.
Lent is to be marked by discipline and fasting with the goal of death to sin, but our eyes must not stay down. They must look ahead to Easter, a day when the fasting comes to end…a day of unbridled laughter and celebration. A day when all creation rejoices and marvels at the gift from God: our Savior, Lord, and King, Jesus Christ.
I spent yesterday morning “scurrying” (a nice British word, I do say) around London for 3 hours. That’s all the time I had, so I had to move fast. I had never been to the UK, nor had I ever really had any desire to visit London, but after yesterday morning, that’s all changed. It was a rare sunny morning. It had rained overnight, and it rained once I got back to the airport. But while I was there, it was sunny. Cold, but wonderfully bright, and the early morning sun reflecting off the beautifully ornate buildings of London was breath-taking.
I took the underground train from Heathrow Airport to the Westminster station. I got off, walked up the stairs to the street, and boom! There was Big Ben staring down at me. I wondered around the city, always keeping Big Ben in sight so that I knew where my train station was. Whereas with the other places I visited on this trip, the people fascinated me more than structures. In London, however, the buildings grabbed my attention more than the people. Here are some of the beautiful things I saw – with a few people thrown in!
My trip to Africa is coming to a close. After 7 days in Egypt and 3 days in Kenya, I’ll begin my long journey home in about 3 hours. My time in Kenya has been quick. Lots of meetings and little free time. However, I have been able to capture on film some of the beauty (and chaos) that the people of Nairobi experience each day here.
So, for my final blog from Africa, I give you the “Humans of Nairobi.” 24 pictures in all. Click on them to see them in more detail.
Medinet Habu is the name commonly given to the Mortuary Temple of Ramesses III, who ruled Egypt during it’s glory days in the 1100′s BC. The temple is located on the shore of the Nile River in Luxor, Egypt.
We drove right through Luxor on our way from Aswan to Hurghada, so we decided to stop. The drive between these two cities takes 7 hours, so unfortunately we didn’t have much time to spend there. On the recommendation of several people in Aswan, we spent what little time we had exploring Medinet Habu. Here are pictures from our journey back in time as we explored a 3,200 year-old Egyptian temple.