Carnival is nearly upon us, and last night I recorded a glimpse of what will be reality for the next week or so.
The group you saw in the video is literally a travelling block party. Al those people live in the same neighborhood, and co-ordinated their t-shirts so that those who are wearing t-shirts all match. They meet up at a common spot, turn the speakers of a car on as loud as they can, and they begin a slow trip to the main commercial area. They will be joined there by many other groups from different areas who have all done likewise. Later on in the night there will be a competition to see which block party can make the most ruckus.
There are many gospels offered to this culture. The most popular gospel is a gospel that offers these partiers the promise of plenty of “blessing,” which translates into health and money – if only the people exercise enough “faith.” Another gospel offers a Jesus who died for the people and a Mary who intercedes for the people. Just don’t kill anyone, and one day everything will be ok.
Then there is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. God is calling out for Himself a People from this world, a People who He is sanctifying and preparing to worship Him forever. In this culture in Belém the reality of God’s calling seems so much more vivid than it many times appears in our American culture. Many times we lose the sense of God’s calling a People out for Himself. Out from what? we may ask. But here, with the worldliness of the world on blatant display, the contrast could not be clearer. God has called us to a life of holiness. God has called us to a life committed to affections that are formed and directed in ways that are contrary to the surrounding lifestyle. God is re-forming our affections by the Gospel to be directed to the real Jesus. God is forming our affections to the realities of faith, not the illusions of sight.