Oh What a Sunday

by Tamara Sawyer

I had the most unusual amazing Sunday ever this past week so wanted to share it before this Sunday rolled around.

I have been struggling a little bit with some not so great attitudes about the Sunday church service they have here. Not being very knowlegable about theology and what different types of services mean, I can only tell you that apparently the Christian version of the service they offer here is called a Protestant service. For me, after being spoiled at Westside, it just has not been working and gives me a lot to grumble about.

We walk in to the chapel, pick up this brochure and inside are the “hyms” that we are going to sing along with some readings. This cute elderly lady that is an inmate comes in, sits down at the piano and we are off to the races! Many of you will know what I am talking about here. I instantly was transported back 40 years to the services we went to where the same lady sitting at the piano is singing in a very high voice that shakes and not one person is on key while we all sing the hyms. Then the pastor (who I know is lip sincing because he’s the only male in the entire room and it’s clearly all females singing) reads something out of the brochure and we read back to him, then someone reads the verse from the brochure and we all say something else etc….then after almost an hour, the pastor says something for about 7 minutes about what we just read and it all came out of a King James version bible and NOT my message bible. Stay with me here…..

I have done this for 2 weeks in a row and complain bitterly about it to all my “new found friends” who will listen, but tell them profusely, it’s just me, not what I am used to, they should try it etc.

I had decided I was going to try it 1 more time and if it was as aweful as the first 2 times, done. That was it.

Well imagine my surprise last Sunday when as I was sitting in the day room at 9:00am, and looked up at the TV and what should my eyes behold? My hero, Joel Osteen! Oh Happy Day. Only problem is, I needed a radio to be able to hear the TV as none of them have volume to keep the noise down in the day rooms. Well I quickly found someone who was more than willing to lend me their radio so I got to listen to Joel Osteen. I was so so happy. Now I didn’t have to go to that church service any more! Wait there’s more.

As we were leaving for lunch, a sweet young lady that cut my hair here by the name of Dora asked me if I was still going to come to their Catholic Service today because she was singing a solo. Good grief, I was done with that chapel! But, of course, I was going to go listen to her solo at 12:30. The Catholic service is right before the Christian service. So off I go to the Catholic service where I was sure she would sing first, it only makes sense, singing first, sermon 2nd.

Walking in I was warmly greeted by a man in a long flowing white robe with a large green sash around his neck. Such a nice man. I quickly settled into a row of chairs in the very back seperate from the rest of the chairs so I could hastily make my exit after Dora sang. It didn’t take long to notice that I was the ONLY white woman in the group. Everyone else was hispanic and the sayings in their book were in english and hispanic but they all spoke in Spanish. As things were progressing 4 woman carried in the largest picture of Jesus I had ever seen in my life and hung it in the front of the room along with a table that they filled with beautiful flowers in vases. Then before I knew it we were standing up, sitting down, reading out loud, listening to the pastor, back up, holding hands, lifting our hands, kneeling down, sitting back down, reading some more back to the pastor, standing back up holding hands again only this time all the way above our heads, and the entire time woman were walking up to the huge picture of Jesus and kissing it, and kneeling and praying, so sweet. THEN, before I realized what was going on everyone was lining up in front of this pastor, single file, and I realized they were taking communion but they were all drinking out of the same cup. That’s were I silently slipped out of line, as that is just a bit over the top for me…….Nope not drinking out of the same cup as everyone else. OCD strikes again.

Needless to say, Dora sang last. Dead last, the very last thing of this service. So there I had sat thru an entire Catholic service, and can I just say, it was the sweetest, most peace filled, lovely service. I couldn’t understand one thing that they said, but I felt the love these woman had for Jesus, and I felt blessed to be included in all they were doing. I was exhausted though. I felt like I had just worked out:)

So as the service ended, I was going to go take a much needed nap, when all of a sudden I thought, you know I am here I might as well try it “one more time” but after today “that’s it” no more! God works in such amazing ways. I walk in, here is a woman that all this time I thought was a guard at the chapel, no, she’s pastor Ashford who I have heard all about, not the other guy that had been there, she’s sporting a guitar, and man does she have a voice, out with the hymnals and away we go!!! She is AMAZING! She spoke and wouldn’t you know it her entire sermon was on judgement and excuses about hearing the word of God. She literally said verbatim every word I had uttered to anyone who would listen. “It’s too old fashioned, it’s not what I am used to, I don’t like ther version of the bible they are using, it’s boring, I just don’t relate” and on and on. She clearly stated how important it is to let go of expectations and truly hear the word of God and let it work in our lives.

So, there you have it. I was sufficiently “churched” last weekend, and can’t wait to listen to Joel again this weekend.

Stay tuned…….