We Visit the Apostolic Church

gospelWe walked into the Apostolic church, my wife’s 7th and 8th grade synagogue Sunday school class and I. I’d been in the church before. A good friend’s wife Home-going ceremony was held here after her years’ long battle with liver cancer. Let’s be 13 again, you and I, and to try to view an Apostolic church for the first time.

Pulpit. Altar. Religious artwork at the sides of the pulpit. Rows of pews. Comfy chairs on the pulpit for the elders. A cross. Yes. Church-y. Whew.

Uh-oh. Drum riser, Hammond B-3 organ, electric piano, Fender electric bass on a guitar stand. This is different. Jews do not have bands in their synagogues.

There are a dozen people sitting down front. A young man is reading from the Bible and sharing a lesson. He’s talking about how Abraham was ready, at the behest of God, to slay his only son, Isaac. Normal. Whew.

Here come a dozen little kids, led by two women. Sunday School students and their teachers. Whispered one of our kids to another, “You can always tell the little kids from Sunday School.”

Our kids sat up a little straighter in the pews. The pews were just comfy enough for long term sitting, not so comfy that they encouraged sleep. I sat at one end. My wife, Cathy, their teacher, sat at the other. Our sister-in-law Amy, the mother of one of the kids, sat one row in front.

The lesson concluded, and people wandered the pews, greeting friends, greeting us and making us feel welcome. Other parishioners wandered into the foyer for coffee and donuts and conversation, making ready for the afternoon of prayer and praise ahead.

I made conversation with the Pastor whilst Cath spoke with his wife. The associate pastor made sure to visit us. She hugged and blessed our children for visiting them. The nurses’ aides made ready – pouring cups of orange juice and arranging the stacks of hand-held fans against the warmth of the heating system. It was a very warm and welcoming twenty minutes between Sunday school and the onset of the day’s service.

The pastor and his wife settled into their chairs on the pulpit. The associate pastor took the stand, just a few people seated in the pews, and she picked up the microphone.

“Welcome to all. We are here today to sing the praises of our Lord Jesus Christ and to give thanks for His goodness.”

She nodded at the band. The bass player started the rhythm “Boom Thwocka Boom…Boom Thwocka Boom.” The organist played a riff over the top. The drummer’s kick drum, his snare, and ride cymbal set the beat, and the electric piano wailed on top.

It was loud. It was bluesy. It got your feet stamping and your hands clamping. It was soulful. I looked down the row. Nine Jewish kids had never heard anything like this at their religious services. The pastor, in a glorious alto, started a gospel call and response with the congregation, welcoming Jesus and all his followers to the church. People started wandering into the sanctuary.

Not a soul was seated. Hands waved in the air. Feet stomped. Bodies moved to the beat. Shouts of “praise Jesus” echoed around the room. Our kids looked nervously at Cath. They looked at me. They looked at Amy. We were out of seats, clapping and swaying to the music. It was not possible to stand still. The kids leapt to their feet, joining in the joy of the music. A lay preacher took the microphone. She began knocking out her day’s praise to the beat in a rhythm that would have made Eminem shout Hallelujah.

It was rich. It was beautiful. It was soulful and straight from the heart. It was truly glorious, to see families so moved by the warmth of the congregation and the shared love of God’s word that they heaped praise upon praise upon praise.

Sadly, we had to leave a bit early. Amy and I broke into a raucous chorus of Ezekial Saw the Wheel in the parking lot. The kids started dancing and waving their hands. Said one of our kids, “Man, if our services were like this, I’d be at Temple every Friday night!”


Feature Photo credit: Viewminder / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND


The Beginning
About David Stanley

Teacher & science guy, writer, musician, coach, skier and bike racer, I am interested… in everything; your story, food & spirits and music and everything in the natural world, spirit & sport. My son is 22 and still needs his Dad. I am 56 and so do I.
I blog on life and death, cancer and sports, kids and education at http://dstan58.blogspot.com/

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