Guess where I went again?
If these images don’t mean anything to you, then you need to go back to read the original ‘In nomine padre’ blog to make sense of this one because at Easter I returned to Sunshine Church to find out what happens in the last hour and a half of the service (as I only lasted three and half hours last time) !
So the first three and a half hours were pretty much as before. Yes, there were still thrones ( and a very nice new 3 piece suite) and the ‘drug lords’, there was still a giant conga for Jesus all round the church which I joined in on this time and still an amazing series of choirs and dancing. And a surprisingly succinct sermon – with it being Easter and all, I thought we would be in for something a bit longer than the hour we had last time but, if anything, this was shorter. Maybe they thought everyone knew this story.
What was not succinct was the collection section.
A speaker was coming from Uganda the following week so everyone who had pledged a donation to help with the cost of his stay came up. And those that had pledged goods to feed him, such as chickens, goats, grain, etc came up – with the chicken, goats, grain,etc.
And then, after the usual shuffling dance up to the collection pots by the whole congregation, there was the special collection for the doors on their church. They already had a sizeable extension on one side of it and a new sound system. But no doors. The call went out a few times and people slowly pledged amounts. Then the pastor started singling people out in the congregation! “Come on, sister , we know your business is doing well now….”, “Brother, we have not seen you with a pledge in your hand for weeks ..” Missed a trick not picking on the white woman trying to slide down in her plastic garden chair though!
And the point where we left it last time, with the wailing and beating of breasts, was well and truly there. As the choir moved in to its chanting phase and ol’ James Brown got up there calling on the Lord to save us poor sinners, people started crying and shaking and repeating prayers over again while they marched back and forth along the rows of seats. The slight young woman in front of me, who until then seemed to be pretty quiet, started throwing herself around and Neema, next to me, told me to hold her head. After a few more minutes that was obviously not going to be enough and six burly men came to carry her up to the front. Yes, six. It started with only 3 or 4 but they soon realised it was going to take the full six to restrain the demon that was throwing her body all around the place.
No-one possessed by demons was left untouched by the pastor who cast the demons out left, right and centre. With the choir in the background, at one point it seemed like he was doing it to music! The other pastors came to help him at one point. There must have been an extra lot of Devil about with it being Easter weekend.
Then came Communion. With about four hundred people in the church, they had a very efficient way of passing round the little sweet biscuits. A sharp ‘No’ from Neema stopped me just in time from making the faux pas of nibbling a bit off the edge, and we waited until everyone had one before the Pastor told us all to think of Jesus as we ate it. And the same again with tiny glasses of blackcurrant juice – waiting and all taking the shot together. Not very up on all this but it actually seemed a very nice way, and a more focused way, of doing it rather than queuing for the individual Communion as in most churches in the UK.
Then, as things calmed, there were the ‘notices’! It seemed a bit bizarre after four and a half hours of high emotion to be moving in to, don’t forget to bring your dishes for the pot luck supper on Friday but, there you go, the whole thing was a bit joyously odd!