We entered the white-painted concrete block sanctuary and took our seats on a few rows of wooden pews under the vaulted ceiling, spotted with fans lazily circling through the air. The sound of chickens scratching and clucking drafted in through the open windows.
In addition to the greeters, a mixture of parishioners had arrived early to prepare the space for worship. Wall fans were turned on and up to ‘HIGH’. The microphones, bass and keys were ensured to be working and at the right level (loud!). Finally, communion was readied and placed properly on the altar.
Praise and worship was, as it is supposed to be in Christian life, first. One of the songs sang was ‘Father Abraham’, which is commonly a favorite of Jamaican children and one they taught us on a previous trip. Not only does it tell the story of all of us being “Sons of Abraham” but comes complete with multiple movements of hands, feet, head and more throughout the song. Which we did. In church. We got DOWN to some Father Abraham and became children of God all over again by losing our inhibitions of looking silly in front of others because of how we chose to worship.
Being our second day in Jamaica, we were still getting acclimated to the cultural differences within our shared community and were appreciative for anything that reminded us of home. During the Passing of the Peace, the part of church dedicated to fellowship, every person in the church spilled into the center row to greet one another with the love and peace of Jesus Christ! We were humbled to receive such a heartfelt welcome into a new church and mingling with the good people we meet. Later, in our daily time of group devotions, the team would remark about how much they felt “at home, even in another country” after that moment and that they would carry with them the drive to connect with others, whether meeting them for the first or hundredth time, as sincerely and lovingly as we were welcomed and loved that Sunday morning. It reminds me of the end of Psalm 23…surely goodness and love will follow me…