On the first Friday of March each year, Australians and people from many other countries have an opportunity to come to know something of the experiences and needs of people, mainly women, of another culture. It is the World Day of Prayer when, through a common order of service developed in a different country each year, worshippers discover how women from another environment and language understand their chosen biblical passage in the context of their particular concerns. This leads to feelings of solidarity and an experience of the richness of the Christian faith that transcends national and cultural differences.
The 2016 order of service has been prepared by Christian women in the republic of Cuba. Their home is a tropical archipelago in the Caribbean Sea, with two main islands and more than four thousand islets and atolls, which they say forms the shape of a caiman or alligator. 1250 kilometres long, it has a population of over 11 million. They are a mixed race people, descended from Indigenous Caribbeans, the Spanish who conquered them, the Americans who displaced the Spanish, people of various races brought to work on plantations and settlers who have come from many lands in the last century.
The Constitution of Cuba now guarantees religious freedom and many people who had hidden their Christian faith during the communist years now practise their faith openly. About 85% claim to be Catholics and there are about 5% Protestants. Worship services include traditional music and dance, guitars and the rhythm of instruments like the bongo, maracas and claves.
Education is compulsory for children from 5 to 15 years old and good tertiary education and training is available. However, despite the fact that women make up well over half of the labour force, the abilities of women are still not recognised for key positions in politics, the economy and religion. Persistent patterns of behaviour denote a patriarchal and male chauvinist culture at all levels of social relations, and this concern is reflected in the order of service we have been given. Mark 9:37 – “Anyone who welcomes a child in my name welcomes me” is the theme they have chosen.
The city service will be held on Friday 4th March at St Luke's Anglican Church, Whitmore Square Adelaide at 1.30pm. All members of city churches and other friends, men and women, will be very welcome. The change from morning to afternoon in the last two years has proved popular, but if you prefer a morning service there is sure to be one in your locality.
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