Thursday, January 6, 2011
thirty-second visit: Jan 4th 2011 Pentecostal, Revival Service
New Year Revival Service at
The Pentecostal Temple Church of God in Christ
6300 East Liberty Blvd, Pittsburgh PA 15206
At this project's conception, I envisioned a paragraph or so for each blog entry, for each visit. I have been struggling to keep my entries to a more manageable length. No one has time to read all those words. And ah, the time to write them. With my teaching college classes—this semester in town and also one a 4.5 hr weekly commute out (each way)... called "Obsessions" no less... a more efficient streamlining of thought, a more careful honing in on the essentials and healthy self-editing becomes more important. In the direction and name of improvement. We'll see how it goes. (I can hear those who know me saying, "Yeah, right.")
So, I finally found my Pentecostal (see last entry). New Years Revival, indeed. What I failed to put in my little canvas bag as I ran out the door were my dancing shoes. Now, I've been known to enjoy an occasional boogie session, but here it's jubilantly holy, and among this African American congregation radiates an energy of no bounds. And no boundaries between song, sermon, dance, praise and worship. There was literally no pause to the organ's whirling, sighing, tripping of hums the entire service, slipping into the background, then shining forward again. Accompaniment to the readings, sermon (story of healing), and testimony from members, spoken with mic at the alter. Musical notes served as the organist's personal "Amen," in chorus to the attendees. ("SOMEbody ought to say, 'Praise the Lord.'")
The musicians here are skilled. Drums, base, organ guitar and voice, and I'm probably missing something. Sermon blends into Pastor's Mann's spiritual solo. Yes singing, himself. Then from song back to soulfully spoken word. The whole gathering had begun with a gospel solo by the Pastor's wife. I am wondering now if it was she who answered my phone call: "Of course, sweetie, our doors are open to everyone."
"If anyone will come down this aisle, up to this alter and say to me, 'Pastor Mann, I want to join the church today,' I promise you... I swear... I will DANCE." Roaring congregation. The man in front of me turns to ask if I'm a member yet. A moment later, someone else answers the call. Have you seen last year's Alice in Wonderland? Last scene. It exists here in real time. Futterwacken. No fantasy.
Where does this energy come from? Is it stored within and released? Or does it flow through us from elsewhere. I'm talking secular, too. Athletic energy. Energy to share with my students. My insistence on rousing my nieces and nephews to shreeks and cartwheels despite my sisters' protests. Drive. Response. Expression. And the source of the ideas floating around my art studio at home. To wonder.