Friday, August 12, 2011

seventy-second visit: Aug 10th 2011 Mission Christianity, prayer service

7:30pm wednesday
Missionary Temple Ministries
intended: prayer service
238 Penn Circle East, Pittsburgh PA 15206
east liberty

This sweet red brick church is not far from my house. I pass it often. Recently I notice the signage listing "Wednesday 6pm prayer."

Only, in my mind, late this Wed afternoon, while frantically trying to finishing my dress-sewing in response to the previous visit before leaving for this one, I mix up the starting time of this visit (6pm) with that of next Wednesday's Buddhist meditation (7pm). At 7pm, I need a few more minutes to finish sewing, and so it is 7:30 before I pull in at Missionary Temple Ministries... and read the sign again... and realize that I am not just 30 minutes late (in itself, BAD) but instead I am a full hour and a half late. Wanting to avoid being all dressed up and having no where to go, I find the door unlocked and enter, selfishly hoping that the group has a lot of praying to do, and that perhaps things are still going on.

And indeed so, full on. Or so it looks to me.

What I do not know at that time, is that the lettering on the exterior sign has very little to do with indicating the times at which things actually take place at MTM. The sign contains old info. I had arrived at a time when actually no prayer service was scheduled at all. Arriving at 6pm would not have helped, either. But mysteriously, it all works out in the end.

I'll just describe what I experienced.

First, to explain: To me, prayer is simply an expression of hope. I feel that sometimes drawing can be such. And so I enter today with specific intention—to hope for the end of the causes of rioting in London, and to draw. I choose a center pew, third from front.

In the sanctuary:
Is it inappropriate to describe? I had never been to a prayer service. I offer description in answer of my own want of understanding...
2 worshipers kneeling at the alter, elbows on its raised platform, heads bowed.
Plus another turned the opposite direction, back against the alter's supporting wall.
2 others walk along pew aisles, passionately calling praises.
A faint audio recording sounds in the background. I cannot tell if it is completely in English.
A man enters carrying a white towel folded into a small square. Places the folded towel on the ground. Lays his body prone, belly-down, full contact on the carpeted floor. Nestles his face into the towel, nose down, parallel to the floor, and prays.
A young boy plays a Game Boy in a pew to my right.
Once or twice a pray-er speaks in tongues.
Several others enter and join throughout the next 45 minutes.
Worshipers rock in concentration, not unlike the calming movement of worshipers at Orthodox Jewish services I've attended.
A man begins to play an electric keyboard.
And painted in beautiful Gothic lettering on the back walls of the great alter, are the words: "Wir aber predigen den gekreutzigten Christum." (As true with many languages, German words placed in phrases don't always carry their literal meaning, but here's my best guess at a translation: "But we preach [about] Christ on the cross." Or "We preach ?only? about Christ on the cross." (And according to my dictionary, "gekreuzigten" is misspelled... or a different or older form of German, maybe?)

I have no doubt that the present congregation has not a German bone in them, yet this, it seems, was carefully preserved (painted around) when the rest of the room was coated in its current mauve-pink. I could never bear to paint it over, either. A moment of Pittsburgh joy.

As I leave, a kind, kind woman follows and stops me just outside the door. Explains that usually they meet for Bible study at 7:30pm on Wednesdays, but this night was special, and the study-members had decided to open the session with individual prayer. Prayer services are normally only held on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays at 10am and Fridays also at 6pm. Lucky, I am. Or however you choose to explain it.

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