What a weekend I’ve just had!
On Friday, at the invitation of an aide at the Care Center here where I visit and volunteer, I attended the Good Friday service at Greater Purpose Apostolic Church, my first experience of black Pentecostal worship. It was a wonderful experience.
The church is very small, on a little side street, in a black, urban, poor neighborhood. Helena called it a “family church”, and I found out it is. Most of the congregation and many of the officials are related to each other. Because my driver was early and I was already waiting for him, I arrived at 7:15 for a service that was supposed to start at 7:30. A few people were there, preparing the sanctuary and bustling to and fro. They warmly welcomed me. Little by little a few more people arrived and were seated. At 7:40, a woman stood at the podium and began singing. We stood and sang with her, for most of an hour. And then the service began.
By this time the ten people who were dignitaries, pastors, and other important people were seated on the platform in front of us. At most, I would say there were about 50 people present by 9:00. Music was provided by keyboard, drum set, and saxophone, as well as a choir of six voices. We sang. We clapped. We rocked. The sound system produced deafening volume, so loud that my ears actually ached. Really, no amplification was necessary in that small room, that may have held 100 people. I think the loud sound was to generate excitement. As people stamped their feet and danced, the floor shook. My body was vibrating.
Seven speakers in sequence spoke on the seven last words of Jesus on the cross. I was mightily impressed and moved by the insights and applications these speakers drew from the texts assigned to them. Clearly, each had thought long and deeply about these words and their meaning to them.
Here’s the service program.
By 10:00 I had to leave. Even though I was enjoying the experience, I could no longer tolerate the intense sound. By this time, they had gotten through the first five speakers and the singing had begun again. I was sorry to leave, but my ears continued ringing and my body continued vibrating for half an hour after I got home. I suppose the service may have ended by midnight.
On Saturday I had another intense experience. Grandson Matt picked me up at 5:15 and took me to son Michael’s house. As soon as I had put my stuff in “my” room and come back downstairs, Matt announced, “We’re going to dinner and a movie.” Okay. When I returned with my jacket, only Michael was seated, alone, in the family room. “Matt and Carolyn have gone to the restaurant to hold our table, and we’re waiting for Josh.” Ten minutes later Josh arrived, peed, and off we went to the Mexican restaurant where Carolyn and Matt were finishing their dinners. We’d dropped Josh off at the theater to buy tickets. He arrived, gave Matt and Carolyn their tickets and they left to save seats in the theater. By this time it was 6:30. We had ordered and just received our meals. At 6:50 Michael called for the check and at 6:55 we were walking at speed the two blocks to the theater for a 7:00 movie. Stopped at the restrooms and were in our seats by 7:00. And there we sat through 30 minutes of previews. “So what was the hurry?” I asked Michael. “Just the way it is,” he shrugged. Sigh. My fish taco was excellent. I so rarely get to eat at a restaurant, and I had barely eaten half my dinner.
The movie was How to Train Your Dragon, an animated kid’s film, in 3-D. It was Carolyn’s choice because of the reviews it has gotten and because of the story. Again, I was assaulted by the high-decibel sound system, but it was NOT as loud as the Good Friday service. Actually, I enjoyed the movie. It is visually beautiful and it is a good story. Back home by 9:30, I was ready to go to my room. Done.
In my room I discovered that some time during the evening, my hearing aid batteries had died. During the movie, probably a good thing.
Sunday morning I was awake at 6:30. After putting on my bathing suit, I headed for the hot tub.
From there I gazed up into the sky.
And at the rising sun.
Also watched Michael hiding Easter eggs. The whole family had dyed four dozen eggs a few days previously and he was preparing for the annual Easter egg hunt—for Matt (23) and Josh (17)!
Two eggs in the shot below.
No Easter eggs in view here, just the tree house.
That done, Michael brought us coffee and joined me in the Jacuzzi until 8:40.
Did you see the Easter Egg on top of the fountain?
Then it was time for me to get ready for church. My brother picked me up at 9:20, all packed and ready to spend the day with him and his family. His church’s Easter service draws so many attendees that it is held in the Goucher College auditorium, which seats 1000 people. A splendid service of beautiful music, dance performance, orchestra, choir, and the most diverse congregation you’re likely to see anywhere. Faith Christian Fellowship is a multicultural church that, like Greater Purpose, is located in a poor, urban, mostly black neighborhood. It includes poor single moms, black families, Asians, immigrants from many countries, foreign students, PhDs, doctors, teachers, and bankers. It is a youthful congregation with lots of children and college students. I was high on young people.
Its worship services include elements from the African-American tradition, Roman Catholic, Quaker, and their founders’ Presbyterian heritages. Multicultural and finely done. The concluding choral piece was a beautifully harmonic work sung a cappella. Well done!
Throughout most of the service, which lasted from 10:00 till 12:00, I held a black, Down syndrome baby, who, with her 18-year-old sister and caretaker, have been taken under the wings of my niece’s family. They spent the day with us.
Us being 20 adults and 13 children from baby Faith to the 18-year-old triplets—my brother’s extended family, hosted by his cabinetmaker son Timm and his daughter-in-law Maggie. We feasted and talked and listened to the cello played very competently by their daughter Ellin, a student at Baltimore’s renowned School for the Arts.
Brought by brother Don and his wife Chickie, I arrived home at 5:15.
What a weekend!
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