Monday, January 2, 2012

The Gospel Service

In 1997 I attended a “gospel” chapel service at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama.  It was one of the few times, up to that point, that I had attended a non-Church-of-Christ service.  I tagged along with my friend Raymond, an Air Force captain.

We got to the chapel right on time and noticed a good number of people already scattered throughout the small auditorium.  Several congregants nodded and smiled as we passed down the aisle.  Ray led us up to the second row.

A few minutes later, the band struck up.  They were rockin’.  I’d never seen such a thing in church.  Heads bobbed all around us.  Hands raised in the air with arms waving back and forth.  Pairs of eyes closed for awhile and then opened back up.  Bodies swayed.

This was an unruly group.

And singing.  Oh yes, the people were singing loudly, a song I’d never heard of before.  And then more singing before the chaplain finally made his way to the front.  He spread his arms wide and said, “Everyone, greet your brothers and sisters.”

And the Christians turned sideways and backwards and started hugging.  A spate of hugging.

I was safely out of my comfort zone.

And after the hugging had died down, the chaplain delivered his message full of emotion and grace, and the gathered believers supported him with plenty of Uh-huhs and Amens.

And before long it was all over.  A prayer and a scattering back to homes and barracks, a time of getting ready for another week with the Lord.

And I went back to my quarters that day a little bit changed, reflecting on a worship time with movement.


  1. My first non-CofC service, at least that I recall, was Catholic charismatic Christmas Eve mass. Robes, incense, complete mass, folk music, and tongues. Sounds like we both had rather drastic first experiences.

  2. I attended a Catholic service last year ... but no folk music and tongues! I must admit, I like a good bit of the non-traditional stuff.

  3. Of course, saying that a Catholic service is non-traditional is bit humourous.