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Falling in love with Jesus

January 16, 2012

Yesterday was Sunday, the Christian sabbath, and I went with a fellow seminarian to the Trinity United Church of Christ on the south side of Chicago. (Yes, Obama and Oprah’s church.) Quite an experience! Although, with the exception of a confirmation class from a white church, my classmate and I were almost the only white faces in a congregation of thousands, I felt warmly and completely welcomed. The people were dressed in their Sunday best, much of it African-inspired fashion that was colorful and bold. The music was upbeat and pervaded almost every part of the service, and joy was in the air. It was loud, Jesus-y, passionate, and loving.

The day’s scripture was Matthew 5:43-45 (NIV):

43 You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.

My favorite part of the three-hour service was when Reverend Moss got a text message that there were some teens “cutting up” in the balcony. At the next transition point, he asked all the middle and high school students to stand, without saying first why. Once they were standing (probably at least 100 kids in a crowd that was surely well over 1,000) he let it be known that he’d gotten word there was unacceptable behavior going on in the balcony, and he reminded them very firmly that they were at a WORSHIP service where there were expectations about behavior. He sent all the assistant pastors and a deacon or two up to the balcony to address the problems, and to find out who had been in the bathroom recently. He made it clear that if he got another text, he’d be up there himself. He said, in an authentic and fierce way, that he was doing this because he loves them, and because he expects the best – both from them, and for them. The congregation went wild with support for that message, the kids were allowed to sit back down, and the service went on.

I left filled with admiration and respect for how that community welcomes all, and offers hope, love, and dreams to its members. I left feeling saved, and loving what Jesus’ message of love can still do among the people.

 

 

4 Comments leave one →
  1. January 17, 2012 5:41 pm

    Wow–what a neat example of viewing your congregation’s worship as a gathering of community, not a tv broadcast…

    • January 18, 2012 3:13 am

      Hadn’t thought of it like that, exactly, but yes! An especially fine thing because there WERE TV cameras recording the service, which was being broadcast live on the church website, I think. I tried to find archived video, but would have had to send $ to buy a DVD, which I then couldn’t legally copy here. So people just ought to go see it for themselves – don ‘t take my word for it!

  2. Ed Proulx permalink
    February 2, 2012 3:16 am

    I LOVE Trinity UCC. Can a Unitarian Universalist Church hit it that hard without scaring people off? Maybe, just maybe we bore people off because we don’t hit it hard enough. What’s the point in having a talk if you ain’t thinking about walking it? Just sayin’.

    They talk about getting rid of payday loans and they start a credit union. They talk about access to healthcare and they start a clinic. We talk. They do. I’m just sayin’.

    The only UU minister who ever made me cry – and she made me cry repeatedly – was run out of town by the UUA. I ain’t sayin’ she didn’t have her faults, *who doesn’t* but she had herself some love.

    Just sayin’.

    • February 4, 2012 2:47 am

      Oh, Ed, I can make you cry. Did you already take the preaching class? If not, let’s take it together and we can put a wager on it. No, wait, that would probably be wrong. I’m pretty sure Jesus wouldn’t do that. Never mind.

      Ha! Maybe I owe thanks to my younger brother for being able to make congregations cry – I used to practice it on him when we were young. And I’ve never liked to hit people; I brought him to tears using the power of words. This might be why I used to think parents should spank their kids at night, just to cover the bad stuff they didn’t get caught for…

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