It was good to spend Easter, or Resurrection Sunday, in South Sudan. The Episcopal Church of Sudan held services for the entire Holy Week. I was under the weather with a few small illnesses (salmonella and malaria), so I didn’t participate until Thursday. On Thursday afternoon, they held a “foot washing” service (sorry no pictures). The preacher for the day washed the feet of all the congregants, some 40 people, and afterwards the Bishop washed his feet. It was only the second time in my life that I’ve taken part in foot washing, the first being apart of my welcome at St. Joseph’s Home for Boys in Port au Prince, Haiti. The ECS foot washing service was a great time to reflect and re-learn from the South Sudanese the events of Jesus’ passion, specifically Christ needing to wash the feet of the disciples, lest they would have “no part” in Him (John 13:8).
Good Friday was a public holiday, so they held services at 11am. The service commemorated the promises and death of Jesus. The narrative of Jesus on the cross was retold and the seriousness of the commemoration was emphasized, often by making reference to the Filipino Christian group that actually crucifies men each year. Thankfully they did not emulate the group.
On Saturday, they held an evening candlelight service. Children brought, or were given, candles that they lit as they walked into the church.
I went to the service at ECS’ All Saints Cathedral. I walked in and saw Joseph Taban, the South Sudanese former Duke Divinity Student, serving as worship leader. The next day, Easter Sunday, Joseph preached for the early morning English service. He preached a sermon on the 7 sayings of Christ after the resurrection.
Afterwards, I shared a rare cup of tea with a few other missionaries serving ECS in South Sudan. When I went to my usual Sunday morning service at Rejaf’s Pro-Cathedral, Bishop Enock preached. What I remember from his sermon (through translation; it was preached in Bari, a language I don’t know) is the need to forgive our enemies, and that in forgiveness there is the new life for the one who forgives, and new life becomes available for the one who made the offense.