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The Synagogue church in California is the place to be if only a single visit to the church will buy anyone a free trip to heaven. On a Sunday morning, my colleagues and I arrived at the church at precisely nine o'clock. The parking lot directly across the street from the gate was already packed, showing the church's 'capital' in terms of members. It was clear that the building we were about to spend the next five hours in was a worship center. Many people would not have known it was a church if it hadn't been for the monumental cross above the main entrance. Inside, one felt like he had had back the one gift from God which he had presumably been snatched. The fresh air, cool accompanied by the unending smiles from other congregants, enabled visitors of our kind to feel like long time members of the church. The interior decor stroked, it obviously made one feel the presence of the lord. Actually, this kind of investment, erected particularly for worshipping would make one appreciate the mightiness of God.
The congregation looked like any other apart from the dress code; traditionally worshippers paid a lot of attention on their dressing especially when attending the church services. No wonder, everyone had his or her Sunday best however; this was not the case at the Synagogue, to many of the congregants, the focus seemed to be in the heart but not the attire.
Apart from the verbal form of communication, there is also the non verbal form of communication which equally plays a vital role in passing message. People must not necessarily use facial expressions; inflect their voices or gesture in order to communicate, even the clothes that they wear say a lot about them. In fact, on a daily basis, only a minor percentage of everything that we communicate is expressed verbally, most of it is expressed non-verbally. Christians are thus challenged to be extra cautious in regard to their mode of dressing. The human mode of clothing has got both the moral and most importantly, the spiritual dimensions. Despite the fact that we may dress to deceive and conceal, our clothing reveals. Therefore, Christians should be cautious when choosing the dress code, since this is a concept used by the devil to bring confusion in the church. I may be unfit to condemn such practices nevertheless, I still hold unto the traditional belief that each occasion has the type of clothing that befits it therefore; an exalted occasion too requires attire that gives glory to the God.
Secondly, I completely detest the notion that the self proclaimed bishops like Andrew have the powers to pray and heal members of the congregation. In my view, such entrepreneurs cum pastors and bishops have taken great advantage of their congregants. They therefore thrive in the weaknesses of their church members. For instance, the impatience in human beings occasionally prompts them to seek help of the likes of Bishop Andrew. Because of their desperation, they end up believing that it is these men of god that can connect them to the Almighty.
The church has become a market place where people exchange spiritual services for money. The church owners have on the other risen financially from rags to the heights of billionaires with the cash solicited from the poor and desperate congregants who never cease to seek intervention. I believe all these explain the source of such great wealth owned by Bishop Andrew. Prayer makes the most important part of the worshipping sessions with The Book of Prayer ’( Revised book of services) or ‘The Book of Services” (a book purely based on rites of the 17th Century) . Just before the session began, there was a verse reading from the bible then followed by the first prayer. Although, the synagogue church has some similarities with the Anglican Church, worshipping in either of the churches has got its own distinct ‘flavor’. After that, the theme of the day was read by the bishop, as the rest of the congregation also read along.
Thereafter, the confirmed members of the church were invited in front of the church to take the Eucharist. In fact, according to Pamela, an older member of the church whom I’d sought for her services, to enable me understand the happenings at the church, this marked the climax of every Sunday service. However, she cautioned against the non-confirmed (not received officially by the church) who could be tempted to take the Eucharist (Holy Communion) that there could be great repercussions for such an act. Later on when the ‘receiving’ (taking sacrament) session ended, the day’s scripture (Sacred writing) was read and people began reflecting on the reading.
The bishop came forth and took the holy ‘body of Christ’ (sacrament). After this, a short prayer was made by the bishop then followed by the preaching. It was interesting how he’d preach with a lot of vigor. At some point, you’d imagine he was quarrelling, though, I later noted that this was his style of preaching. I still can’t tell whether this formed part of the church’s doctrine because Pamela, who was my confederate, seemed uneasy discussing this. Despite the magnitude of the crowd at the church, after the end of the sermon, the bishop stood at door and each congregant’s face was smeared with the ‘anointment oil’ as a sign of blessing from God. As we went through the exit door, Pamela apologized and promised to take me through the notion of ‘anointment oil’ (Sacred oil) on our next meeting.
The church being a lucrative business to many, in the modern society, people have to wary of the false prophets who trade their pastoral services in the name of God. Believers should never allow themselves to be blinded spiritually by the constant ‘miracles’ that are supposedly performed by these entrepreneurs, cum pastors. Moreover, it advisable that every believer reads the bible, comes up with their own interpretations rather; than depend on the false preaching perpetrated by pastors who would always wish to please the congregation. Most of the preachers are not really preachers but motivational speakers and because they also have a target, which is to solicit funds from the very congregants, they only speak about issues that appeal to the members of the church. All in all, the church is the right place to be, and everyone should make it a residence because it is the only place one can find consolation whenever faced with great atrocities. Therefore, just like Bishop Andrew would put it, everyone is welcomed in the house of God.
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