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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Sunday Reflection: Trinity United Church of Christ Chicago

I didn’t get the memo: today must be Africa Day or International Day, I thought to myself as I entered the Trinity United Church of Christ sanctuary Sunday morning.

What a beautiful sight. The entire choir, of about 100 people, was robed in various traditional West African attire.

I took a quick picture. This was President Obama’s church and after the youtube incident, their policies on recording or taking pictures have tightened.

Anywho, I couldn’t find my folks. I thought it would be fairly easy to spot them, with the mindset that this is an African American church so all I have to do is look for the people with outstanding headties and colorful cloths.

The occasion: my little cousin’s baby dedication. Funny enough, all of us 16 deep, wore English attire, save my mom, aunt and a friend with a blendable Ankara skirt under an English top - a style many of the Generation-Y have adopted. However, almost EVERYONE else, the choir, the pastor, the assistants, had on traditional attire. 

I went downstairs and decided I'd better get a seat because the church was filling quickly. I ended up walking in behind two of my friends.  Judy, I didn't know today was African Day.  "They wear this every Sunday."

I sat in awe and amazement. I couldn’t help but to think about how life would be had there not been slavery. Seeing that my analysis could go further, thinking “well, they supposedly brought Christianity to Africa,” I let that go and continued focusing on the choir. There was even a man shaking a shekere. We have one at home. I go to a “Nigerian” church and we don’t even use that.

This was so amazing to me.  At brunch, someone in our group said “I felt more African in this church than in my own church!” Sounds like a conversation with the Pastor is forthcoming.  Although, I will say at our church, traditional attire is encouraged every first Sunday, Thanksgiving Sunday.

I really liked the emphasis on turning the hearts of the father to the children and the children to the father. There were about 8 children dedicated to the Lord yesterday, each wearing white.  The assistant pastor read the parents vows.  Then, the pastor came up to each group. One parent would say the first name, the other parent would say the second name, and the rest of the group was tasked with saying the surname. 

Funny enough, my cousin was the only “African” name, which caused the Pastor to pause to ensure accurate pronunciation.  The pastor dedicated the children each individually, in the name of The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit.  Then the mother would place a bracelet around the child's wrist.  After that the father’s take their children up to the pulpit. An assistant comes in and places salt, vinegar and honey in each child’s mouth via q-tip. Then the father’s hold up their children in unison, facing east, north, west, and south with a very powerful Lion King-esque style music playing in the background. It was so beautiful!

I wish my eyes could take pictures. I wish I could take pictures with my eyes.

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