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At the Gate

Message for worship at West Richmond Friends Meeting, 6th of Second Month, 2022


Speaker: Sussie Ndanyi


Scripture: Genesis 28:10-17, NRSV




Jacob left Beer-sheba and went toward Haran. He came to a certain place and stayed there for the night, because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones of the place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place. And he dreamed that there was a ladder set up on the earth, the top of it reaching to heaven; and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. And the Lord stood beside him and said, “I am the Lord, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring; and your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south; and all the families of the earth shall be blessed in you and in your offspring. Know that I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” Then Jacob woke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place—and I did not know it!” And he was afraid, and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.”


Jambo, Mirembe & Receive my warm greetings from whatever physical location you have joined us from.


I appreciate the Worship Committee for extending an invite to myself to share with you my faith, my experiences with my divine, within myself and my relationship with others, hoping that in this way, we encourage each other to remain steadfast on that narrow path.


Go ahead and extend a greeting to a friend this morning, send a text, wave into this little equitable box, of “Zoom world” we are a scattered community yet blended with technology, and after this session, I believe we will have more time to fellowship with each other. I would encourage each one of us today to intentionally make a phone call to someone you have not spoken to in a while.


And now, MAY THESE WORDS OF MY MOUTH AND THIS MEDITATION OF MY HEART BE PLEASING IN YOUR SIGHT, oh LORD MY ROCK AND MY REDEEMER. {PSALM 19:14).


I am grateful for the source that binds our spirits and hearts, this Source guided my steps from Nairobi Yearly Meeting in Kenya(NYM) to the Earlham School of Religion(ESR) & by extension into West Richmond Friends Church (WRF), where I have experienced Friendship. The strategic location to WRF, a walking distance from ESR is in such a way that you are the first recipient of International Quaker students and others coming in to join ESR who seek to be in community for worship. The rich International experience of your membership here enables you to receive us, dust us up and make sure we integrate into this foreign Culture. You have prepared me adequately for the extreme cold temperatures, offered meals, been patient with the distinct accent in language, and above all the joy we share in experiences, that deepen our interactions in meaningful ways.


I am a mother of three young adults, who nudged me to confidently leave them behind and come to ESR for study. I am the immediate former General Secretary of Nairobi Yearly Meeting, a duty I felt called to serve for 10 years in this way and enjoyed myself at it. The first female among the Kenyan Quakers to serve in this capacity and I am grateful for the USFW the women who started this outreach which grounded my spiritual practice, preparing me into leadership. Your giving in the various Quaker organizations like the Friends United Meeting (FUM), FWCC, USFW, QWSR, FTC, have enabled me to be here. I am a product of your giving into the Kenyan needs AND a lot more needs to be done, among my Quakers in Kenya.


I am excited at the privileged I have received to study at Earlham School of Religion and cannot wait to experience what GOD has in store for me at the end of this journey, as I draw my strength from the Quaker Values of equity, that the African Kenyan Woman can govern institutions when given an opportunity.


Enough of talking about my journey, I want to return to our theme today, that is relational to journeying and that is “at the gate”.


The questions I invite you to ponder with me are:

  1. Which Gate?

  2. Why specifically at the gate anyway?

In my country Kenya, we have a gate at every entrance into a building, be it a house, a public building, a church and they come in various shapes and sizes. Magnificent structures denote the affluence, the wealth and privilege that lie beyond the gate and on the other extreme scenario a makeshift barrier in form of a gate will reference the level of economic struggles one faces. (make reference to the picture on the bulletin today, wilderness beyond) I was surprised to see very few structures of gates here in Richmond and more shocked that public facilities, institutions, schools have no barriers/gates.


My desire today, is that we purpose to linger a little further, spend a little more time “At the Gate.” Listen, I said at the gate… not BEYOND the gate or THROUGH the gate but AT THE GATE.


This is the position of decision making.


As I had indicated earlier, in my country we have gates at every entry point, and at the gate we have an “ASKARI” a Swahili name for - a Security personnel. The role of these people who are armed with torch and a wooden club or baton is to wield off trespassers, they play the role of a check point. Many times, in order to have access to buildings, the askari needs to give you clearance. Therefore, at the gate to access services one would speak to the askari, depending on how the conversation goes, you either gain access into the building, or spend a lot of valuable time explaining yourself before any action is taken by the askari to open the gate for you. You have the option of giving up and turning back. More often than not the askari will judge you by your appearance, the car you are driving or lack of it… before opening the gate… yet… loaded with an attitude or enthusiastically open the gate or worse still shutting you out.


Gates are defensive in nature, not offensive. Gates do not attack, gates defend against. So when one finds themselves at the gate, what do you do?


Let me share with you an experienced that I had when visiting a patient in hospital past the designated visiting hours. I approached the gate with confidence with my mind fixed on spending time with my friend who was admitted in hospi