Nothing best describes the beauty of unity in diversity, the silence in a cacophony of carefully orchestrated sounds and the serenity in the gathering of many – than my experience at Covenant Christian Centre, Lekki.
I set out from my abode with the mind to get to the church some minutes late- the famous African time still exists even in the house of God. I figured I wouldn’t have missed much of the service if I arrived 5 or 10 minutes late.
I couldn’t have been more wrong to be honest.
As I made my way into the church hall barely 5 minutes after the service was declared opened- by a prayer I suppose (I hadn’t gotten there yet so I wouldn’t know), I was greeted by ushers who did not look like ushers.
The ushers were not exactly dressed to reflect any air of spiritual sophistication or holiness and they had the faint traces of a welcoming smile complimenting their not so elaborate yet not so casual dressing.
In all, I didn’t feel immediately welcome as I made my way to the seat one of the ushers pointed me to but I didn’t feel like I didn’t belong neither.
Looking around the congregation, it was quite easy to perceive that everyone in the church was deeply conscious of their differences- from the perky exuberant youths to the more restive and mature adults and parents.
Despite that, it did appear the members of the congregation were confident in their differences without condemning the next guy for having ear piercings or failing to look as serious and as pious as the business of orthodox religion would have it.
Regardless of their differences however, as soon as the choir consisting about half a dozen singers with a leader, began the praise and worship session, I witnessed the congregation lift up their voices as one in worship of just one person- Jesus.
I was enthralled!
The lead singer was not keen on singing too many popular worship songs but the few he called out from the depth of his throat had only one message that the church seemed to accept without inhibitions. Jesus is he who must be worshiped, loved and revered.
The songs that blared from the strategically stationed speakers did so much to paint this Jesus as a friend, the loving non-judging companion anyone could approach with anything from the mundane to the absolutely ridiculous.
It was different from the Jesus I grew up knowing- the one who might throw us all in a sulfuric pool for allowing him to die on the cross for all our sins.
I was enthralled by the idea of this Jesus and before I knew, I had my hands up in the air with my eyes shut tight declaring my love for him in sync with the whole church.
In that moment, I felt I was a part of a people, yet I felt so different and I was confident that I would not be judged in my difference.
Just when the euphoria of the pleasant praise and worship session was wearing off, the pastor of the church, Poju Oyemade made his way to the podium and launched straight into his teaching.
It didn’t take long before he began analyzing very popular scriptures that I’d probably read a thousand times over, in a new dimension.
The pastor, with the patience of a lecturer who knew his onions but was mandated to finish his class at a stipulated time, took the congregation through some parts of the scriptures while giving insightful interpretations.
He had a few jokes too and his teaching was absolutely enjoyable- not even the burning urge to visit the rest room and let out a golden shower could make me miss a second of his message.
As I learned at his feet, all the defiance of my Christian upbringing and the arrogance of my knowledge of the Bible fizzled out of my soul with his deep searching words of truth.
I was drawn to his teaching- it was at the very least insightful, if not absolutely awesome.
Before his message was over, I had already made up my mind to visit this church again, but first, I had to ease myself of the burning liquid.