Today was Mission Sunday at our church, an annual event in which the entire service is centered around the mission work that our church is doing not only in our community but around the world as well. This year we did something a little different and had a special children’s program in our Life Center, while the adults were in “big church”. My friend Aleah and I were recruited to help with the children’s program.
The children’s program featured the Islamic religion, and the Life Center was divided into four centers: School, Home Life, Worship Center, and Market Place. The children were divided into four groups, and rotated among the four centers to learn how Muslim culture differs from Christianity in each of those four areas. Aleah and I were assigned to the Worship Center, which is rather ironic considering that women are given very little freedom in the Muslim world, and yet here two women were put in charge of telling the children about worship! I couldn’t help but laugh at that.
As part of replicating some of the Muslim culture, most of the women participating in the children’s programs were given burqas to wear. This was my first (and hopefully last) experience wearing a burqua. Only our eyes were showing–our hair, forehead, nose and mouth were all covered. It was hot to wear. And hard to breathe. And quite hard to see, especially when the burqa kept slipping down or to the side. I only wore mine for about three hours–I can’t imagine how difficult it must be to wear it all day, every day.
Of course, one of the fun things about wearing the burqa was that it was difficult for people to recognize us. After the first children’s program had finished, Aleah and I walked over to the lobby of the church building while the first worship service was still going on. There were quite a few people milling about in the lobby, and we got our fair share of stares from people trying to figure out who we were. We said hi to some people who actually know us quite well, but who did not recognize us in our get-ups.
I could not help but think of the passage from II Corinthians describing how Moses wore a veil after visiting with the Lord face to face. After his encounter with God, his face was glowing so bright that the Israelites could not look at him directly, but eventually that glow began to face. He wore the veil to disguise the fading of the glow. But those of us who are in Christ have a radiance that does not fade–one, in fact, that actually increases with time rather than fades.
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. (II Cor. 3:17-18)
For those who do not know Christ, they have a veil that covers their hearts (v. 15) and keeps from experience God’s full glory. But those of us who do walk with Christ experience a freedom like no other. How thankful I am for the freedom in Christ that I experience on a daily basis, and for having an unveiled face in more ways than one.