Sunday, December 14, 2008

I'm Someone Too

Here's the Harlem church of the week, East Mt. Olive Baptist Church:

It is nice to be reminded that everybody is somebody. It's a really cute little Arts-and-Crafts-revival looking church, but I'm very upset that the gorgeous stained glass windows on either side of the door have been covered up with notices--I think they are announcing who the pastor is and what the sermon is going to be about. Also, this little church seems to have an equally cute brick building peeking out from behind it. It's probably an extension of the church, but it looks almost like the little church came along, said "Spread out!" and squeezed itself into its little nook, with no heed for the buildings around it.

Meanwhile, a couple of streets over, I had a delightful morning in my own church. I sang two songs with the ward choir, and they were lovely. Sara, our choir director and a fantastic soprano, sang O Holy Night, which I adore. Then the primary children sang a Christmas song, and they are always adorable. I sat on the stand with the choir, which is fun because I get to watch the congregation's reaction to all the songs and talks, and so I saw that during O Holy Night a woman far in the back lifted up both her hands in witness to the spirit she was feeling. Later, during some scripture readings out of Luke, a man in the back also lifted up his hand, shook it in the air, and I watched his head sway as he closed his eyes and silently recited the scriptures. Such pentecostal expressions of faith don't usually happen much in LDS church meetings, but this is Harlem. Over half of the people in my ward are new converts, who grew up going to other churches, expressing their beliefs in different ways. Many of them are very poor and have had very hard lives. But when they feel moved by the Spirit, they recognize it, embrace it wholeheartedly, and want to share it with those around them. It made me happy to see that people were being moved by the songs that were being sung and the words that were being shared, and that I was a part of it. I felt the Spirit too, and I share it with you now. Hosanna!

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