The drums and the organ began to play with ferocity, bringing alive the spirit in the church and the people to their feet as they shouted praise.
The shouting was a familiar sound, cheering the pastor as he led the call-and-response in a steady cadence. It’s first Sunday at its best.
The very huge cross on the center of the front wall, above the choir was captivating. The pastor called the parishioners’ attention to it. They raised their hands and shared in the anointing, singing in unison. During the moment of devotion and worship, prayers of the elders and ancestors that may have been forgotten or were unknown over the generations were being answered and manifested.
During the beginning of service, a call was made not only for corporate prayer but for everyone to join hands, to eliminate the strongholds of loneliness, shame and guilt that were crowding the mind and confusing the soul. This moment is key to faith development. The altar call is a time of reverence, to observe the power of the divine Holy Spirit. Miracles were produced by incantation as the pastor led the worshipers in song and dance. He made references to the apocalypse in scripture and song while calling on God. Tears streamed the faces of the listeners. The shouting and exaltation were symbolic of the power of God that we all can command individually and privately.
Spiritual communion was next, a great opportunity to transfer all your burdens, laying them down on the altar to be transformed by the living God.
The first Sunday of the month requires special attire by the leaders and the lay. The beautiful white robes and dresses are the best examples of the anticipated purging, purification, grace and elevation. While ritualistic, it’s a display of devotion to God.
Here this writer is with Pastor Charles Jenkins, senior pastor of the historic Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church of Chicago and singer of “My God is Awesome,” a song that compels everyone to reach for the sky and celebrate the all-knowing, all-forgiving God whose presence is often forgotten in the absence of communing with spirits.
A blinding light radiated through the windows. The Holy Spirit was in this place. We often forget the power of the spirit of Jesus when we don’t take time to fellowship and commune with likeminded souls and spirits.
Daily individual prayer is important as is corporate prayer and communion. Allow the presence of God to anoint, feed and nurture you and embrace the idea of being in unity and harmony with other souls seeking God.
Remember grandma, who may or may not be present still in our lives. Remember the Sunday school lessons you were taught.
It is here that those hats and wails and moans for Jesus, those calls for the Holy Spirit to come into our lives, is fitting. Oh what a time! We see from the images that we are still welcome; that they’re waiting on us and they continue to wait for a time that is spoken of that has yet to come for those who have already passed but still celebrated for their love and nurturing of our souls. Yes, they screamed loudly, shouted unapologetically for something that would heal those in need, feed those who are hungry for spirits to grow, and the miracles that come from the God that they were celebrating.