I had missed the early service at 8 am. When I arrived, the congregation was finishing their communal breakfast of eggs, bacon, waffles, rice, mashed potatoes, and milk. There were about 200 people there. Other than 3 or 4 families of whites, everyone was black.
After the breakfast, the tables were cleared and then put away quickly. Chairs were set up for the second service at 11:30 am. The singing was, as expected, loud, powerful, and really really good. Some people were dancing spontaneously, though not as much as I thought they would. The choir led the singing for a while. Then the pastor led the singing of many more, and he was GOOD - a strong voice with a wide range, spontaneous, interacting with the congregation, mixing teaching with singing. The congregation responded to him enthusiastically.
Then he preached a sermon on decisions: God decided to resurrect Jesus on Easter Sunday. Jesus pleaded with his father to take the cup of suffering away, but decided to do his father’s will, to die on the cross for our sins. We also have to make the right decisions in life ourselves, including the decision to accept Jesus as our saviour. He used simple examples of daily lives such as food, buying a car, exercise, making and keeping a promise, etc. But the message was clear and powerful. At the end, he called for people to accept Christ and several people came forward.
I enjoyed the service, particularly the singing.
Because this was Easter Sunday, many people came in their best clothes. But it was clear that many of them are not people of means. There were quite a number of people who seemed sick, or overweight. A few were walking with difficulties, some requiring crutches. Some were praying on the side even before the service. Many responded spontaneously with singing and dancing during the service and were obvious moved. They looked like real people who were here because they knew they need God’s healing.
Then I remembered the crowd waiting outside the Presbyterian church on the Magnificent Mile, just an hour earlier. In contrast, there everyone dressed impeccably and expensively. No one was fat or obese. Everybody seemed healthy, energetic, and contented. I have a feeling some people came not just to worship, but also to see and to be seen. I do understand people wanting to dress well for church, to show their respect for God. But that may also cause some people who cannot afford it to shy away. This could just have been the cynical me speaking; or is it actually rational segregation?