Oct. 19, 2008
A black mom with her two children, one walking
the other in her arms,
looks like she knows Brooklyn.
Do you know where the Brooklyn Tabernacle is? we ask.
Why yes. She's going there.
We fall into stride.
She tries to go every week, but she lives in Staten Island,
nearly an hour away,
and the kids, well, it's hard.
But she tries. She misses it when she can't.
Four white men in business suits approach.
Do you know where Brooklyn Tabernacle is? they ask.
Why yes. We're going there.
They fall into stride.
Through the foyer, into the
It is the most beautiful sea I've ever seen: black, brown, suits, jeans,
about eight white faces...two of them mine and Jake's.
There is not an empty seat in God's house today.
The choir stands.
The choir sways.
The people clap.
The people sing.
Amens, hallelujahs all around. Amens, hallelujahs
I do not know why they put a roof on this place
because it must be blown off every week.
Pastor Cymbala, the man behind the book that brought me here,
speaks on John 5: the healing of the lame man at Bethesda,
the man who didn't know who Christ was
and who was healed anyway.
It was then the Pharisees first plotted to kill Jesus.
It was then religion started to destroy everything Christ stands for.
Not here, though. Christ stands
I stand here,
part of the most beautiful sea I've ever seen.
hugging the women behind me.
I stand hugging
the woman next to me, her round cheek smushing mine,
her swaying body swaying mine,
her amens and hallelujahs
whispered in my ear.
--I attended worship at the Brooklyn Tabernacle in New York on Oct. 19. I wanted to go there because I read about it in Jim Cymbala's book, "Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire," which describes how the church went from dying to vibrant when God's people began to pray. They set up a prayer room and prayed all day, during Sunday services and often into the night. The prayer room exists to this day and is filled with people who pray from 7 in the morning until 10 at night every day of the week. Pastor Cymbala, in his announcements, called it the most important service of the church.