Recently I sat in a service and the preacher spoke about JESUS. Yes, that’s right, the preacher actually preached about JESUS. It wasn’t a speech or motivational talk . It wasn’t a bible story about one of the patriarchal characters of the bible, nor was it a message filled with witty sayings and colloquiums. It was a message all about JESUS and that was the focus of this message. An older Methodist Bishop delivered the sermon seemingly as a reminder of who we serve, why and the basics of what the Gospel is all about.
You see, I’m a “new-old timer” Christian. What this means is simply, I like the the relevant ministry style of our age. The praise and worship bands, repetitive tags on songs, the inspiring messages of how to live in peace, prosperity, hope and even moral ethics. I have to admit I love this style of worship expressions. I can really get a tickling in my emotions in these settings and sometimes even sensing the Holy Spirit’s presence. As good as these moments are, I’m also old in my soul and love the traditions of the church. The hymns and methods of my denominational (African Methodist Episcopal) upbringing seem to bring me into another place of familiarity and there too I feel Jesus in the place. The dilemma in question, is how do you blend the two without diminishing the other? How can we make the christian cultural relevant without losing the richness of Christ’s mission in us, for us, through us and with us?
However, on this particular Friday night, NOVEMBER 1, 2013 to be exact; I went deeper into my roots. The setting was right, the choir sang on of my favorites, they also did justice to a wonderful anthem, then the preaching came forth. That type of fiery preaching I grew up listening to. You could hear the rolls, and curls and the inflections of his emphasied pronunciation of his points. It’s some of what my other siblings from another mother would call “black church” or homiletical theatrics (ha), no not black church or emotionalism, it was good ole-fashioned church!
I’m almost afraid to let this cat out of the bag; but in the midst of that service I wanted to scream from the pew from deep within myself. “DON’T STOP THIS SERVICE!!!!! PLEASE DON’T STOP THIS SERVICE!!!!!” PLEASE, NO THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT IS NEEDED. It’s what WE need. It’s what I NEED. I need some ole’time religion that stirs the very core of my spiritual make-up AND penetrates my life beyond the exiting of the sanctuary doors.
Years ago I was raised in the AME CHURCH. As a child I loved church, I was there twice on Sundays, during the week for YPD and choir practice, quarterly, we had meetings with others from around our area. It grew IN me. Yes, I hated the hymns, like all chidden think. I thought were boring, but singing them over and over and over and over again through the years made me love them. I didn’t understand the concept of love feast on Saturday night and the long drawn out communion methodology with the decalogue on the 1st Sunday. Seeing all the ladies dressed in white, with the little doilies on their heads were sometimes a fashion show to me from a child’s perspective. We just ate the crackers, drank the juice and tried hard not to waste it on the white covered altar. No, I didn’t understand how my pastor would preach and the church ladies would get the Holy Ghost screaming and yelling and every once in a while someone would jump up and do a little gig. I didn’t fully embrace the Apostle’s Creed message either and didn’t see the logic in why we had to say it every week. I simply learned it, just like I learned the 23rd Psalm, Sunday school’s motto, YPD creed and the Lord’s Prayer. I was committed a “little church girl” going to Mt. Zion AME Church. I didn’t have a choice and in hindsight I’m glad I didn’t because that church grew JESUS in me.
On Friday night, November 1st, my roots of JESUS were calling me. It was the foundation of my faith in JESUS. I’M SO GLAD the Bishop challenged the church to get back to the basics of including Christ back into the culture of the church. At the end of the service session before the Bishop broke out with a song entitled, “He’s a Battle-Axe in the Time of A Battle” and the whole church erupted. Everyone was up on their feet singing, rocking, smiling, clapping and praising God the old-timey way. Hhhhmmmm what an impression on my soul and my spirit. I don’t recall ever fully learning it, but I KNEW IT! It was already IN ME.
(My friend says….. your message are good Gewanda, but long….. break them up so readers can digest it all…. well I’m taking her advise……… so stay tuned for Part II it’s on it’s way already.
See you back here Through Gewanda’s Eyes…..