Rural Preaching Point in Parana, Brazil, 1970's
April 11, 1972
Dear friends and brothers in Christ:
Christmas, Easter, and Pentecost greetings to you all! I'd meant to get off a Christmas letter, but it just woudn't "jell". So this letter will have a little "hash" flavor to it, a mixture of different things.
First, the gist of what was to be the Christmas letter:
Theme thought: "They grew him old too soon, and when they turned again to look on him they beheld... a babe still lying in a manger; God's mystery still intact."
They look on him, these people with their "hip-pocket god".
They have all the answers, they know all the truth, and so
HURRY BABY, GROW.
There's a crisis on, you know.
There's a nation to be built, a world to be saved. My house isn't paid for, and men are enslaved.
So they grab the baby and grow him up fast,
Flesh out his muscles with their Positive Thought,
Stand him on boxes so He towers over all.
And fill out his education with a transplant to His head:
The latest in tape-recorders with the best that's been said.
NOW, DO YOUR THING, GOD--- we're waiting.
Wait til the Babe grows up in his own good time,
Wait til He bends his finger-- and shatters our universe.
Wait til He grows tall-- so tall we see Him from our knees.
Wait til He speaks, and our words are stopped midcourse in wretched shame.
Wait, -- and look again at a God no man can hurry, no man can shape.
NOW, DO YOUR THING MAN--- God is waiting.
News of the parish and of the church:
We had a rather intensive schedule during the Lenten season, but it was rewarding, too. It began witha youth retreat in Cianorte during the weekend of Carnaval that ends Ash Wednesday. Even though it rained cloudbursts every day, we had a blessed retreat. A total of 75 young people participated.
Special services were held every night in different points of the parish. Our theme may sound rather blatant to some ears, "Enemies that War Against our Soul (life with God)". The enemies considered were Insubordination, Sensuality, Avarice, Vices, Satan, False Religion. Did somebody groan?
Of the approximately 600 people who make up our parish, 225 communed on or about Good Friday. On or about, because we have eight meeting places in the parish, the most distant being a 3-hour drive away.
A rural German Lutheran family in Parana, Brazil, 1970's
I think where I felt the greatest joy was at a small rural community where the men had a long tradition of never communing. Not too long ago we had a long talk about that and they became obedient to the Word of Christ. However, we separated the communion from the worship service and have the communion just before the coffee and cake that always comes about the middle of the afternoon. (Church is at 12:00 in the home of a member). All who are confirmed gather around the table. We have the service and then pass first the plate and then the chalice form person to person at the appropriate moment.
An old German lives there, sharp of mind, fingers gnarled and stiff like old iron hooks; he has been many things, including a communist. Twice he's given me essays he wrote, one on what's wrong with Einstein's concept of space and the other on what's wrong with Einstein's concept of time. Before, when we've had Communion, he's stayed home; this time he came. However, when we were ready to begin the Supper, he disappeared.
"Whup! Wait a minute! Where's Uncle August?" asks one of his nephews (who is already a grandfather).
"I think I saw him down under the orange trees."
"Well, we better get him, too."
Afterward, they are talking very freely during coffee about it (there are no whispered conversations in Keller.)
"Yes," allows Uncle August, "it's the first time I've taken Communion." So, he hadn't finished confirmation in Germany. Then he chuckles and says about the Supper, "but, I guess it didn't do any harm." And, he seems somehow very satisfied with that summation.
Afterward, he slipped me one more essay he'd written: this time on the "soul" and the "spirit".
Next weekend there will be a District Conference of the Church at which time our district will be subdivided into North and South. The North, of which we are a part of, will have ten of the smallest and largest parishes of the church: smallest numerically, largest geographically. All receive some kind of subsidy from the church and are multiple point parishes.
Significant and basic decisions will soon be made about the type of ministry which will be carried out here; whether it will be traditional, "worker-priest", self-serving, missionary or whatever. Pray for us.
The Bible Institute in Londrinda now has 32 students doing the Bible Course while continuing with their secular studies.
the Biels (Clifford)
Family is well.