October 20, 2016

Vacation Postcards. Chipped Paint. God’s Promises.


Robert Feduccia in Ghana
 

We were on the bumpy, dirt road in northern Ghana en route from Sang to Bolgatonga. I wanted to ask our driver to stop so that I could take a picture of something very ordinary, yet it captured everything about our trip to Ghana. I wish my iconic memory from Africa was the dancing that we enjoyed in the villages we visited, or the orphans that sang “Good Morning, Jesus” to us, or the dedication of the CRS staff or the Jesuit community that extended beautiful hospitality to us. In each of these people and in each of my fellow pilgrims, I saw the face of God. Still, in all this, a simple image along that road was the most poetic split second in our 12-day trip.

On the side of an undistinguished building, a phrase caught my eye. The phrase had been painted in that awesome font that was used on postcards from Florida back in the 1950s, the one with big block letters that has Tigger as its spirit-animal. The font itself and the colors the painter used just gushed with optimism. The painter wanted it to be bold and audacious. That’s why this font was chosen and why green and orange had been used to express the phrase “Hope for the Future”.

I don’t know when that phrase was painted on the side of that building, but it must have been several Olympic cycles ago. The paint had chipped and the colors had faded. It was a metaphor. “Hope for the Future” had been marred and it had faded. Seeing this brought me to tears. All I could do is sit with that image and brood.

I thought about Simeon from Luke chapter 2. God promised that he would see the Messiah. When Joseph and Mary brought Jesus to the Temple in Jerusalem for dedication as an infant, Simeon was there. He recognized Jesus as the Messiah and he told God that he could now go in peace. That is a beautifully sweet moment in Scripture. But what led up to it? How old was Simeon when that promise was made? I began to imagine that he was a 19-year-old man when the promise was made. Did he go to the Temple every day expecting to see the Messiah? That morning, did Simeon barely make it out of bed? Did he say to God, “This is my last day. I’m too old to walk to the Temple anymore.” Did he pass from this life the next day? Whatever the circumstances were, he saw the Messiah and was fulfilled. He was able to go in peace.

I think God has made a promise to the people of Ghana. Whoever painted “Hope for the Future” received a promise from God and had a vision for what that future would look like. Even though that promise might have been made several years ago, I pray for the painter that God would fulfill the promise that was made. For the song “Church of Justice”, you’ll notice that the two verses and the bridge end with a prayer for God to fulfill promised justice, a promised banquet, and a promised kingdom. For me, that prayer is for those of Ghana who have been promised hope for the future.

 
Robert Feduccia

Robert Feduccia

 

Robert Feduccia is an inspirational speaker and ministry leader and the former general manager of Spirit & Song. A gifted presenter on liturgical spirituality, he recently expanded his speaking ministry.

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Akwaaba! Songs of Peace and Solidarity

Akwaaba! cover In partnership with Catholic Relief Services, seven Spirit & Song/OCP composers went on a goodwill tour of Ghana, praying and singing with people in their communities and listening to their stories of struggle and triumph. This life-changing experience inspired this album of new songs about the social justice teaching of the Catholic Church. The composers will donate a portion of the proceeds from the sale to support the work of CRS.

 

 

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Catholic Relief Services carries out the commitment of the Bishops of the United States to assist the poor and vulnerable overseas.

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