You know when you first received the 8-pack of Crayola Crayons and that box had the simple colors in it: red, blue, pink, green, yellow, orange, black, and brown? Then you got the 64 pack of crayons and instead of having simple colors, you now have six different shades of pink: Hot pink, Carnation pink, Light pink, Dark pink, Salmon pink. and Tickle Me pink. The original definition of what pink should look like has been expanded to all of the different shades that it encompasses.
This month has been hard. While I have been adjusting to City of Refuge, I’ve been missing the black church—the sermons, the pastor, and especially the worship. Oh, how I’ve missed the worship — when services get shut down because the Holy Spirit has taken over and the church just spends the time in praise and worship, and hearing the worship leader directing the worship and falling to their knees, which then takes the rest of the church out. I let my City Director know how I was feeling and she took me to St. Johns’ United Methodist church, and it was everything I had been longing for. The worship leader even took it back to my childhood with “I Know It Was the Blood,” and one of my favorite songs that I got to sing on the choir: “God Is” by JJ Hairston and Youthful Praise. I realized how much of my worship practices I had not been doing in the house and it felt so good to bring that back. But while I was worshipping and in tears because I was so happy, my mind kept flashing back to City of Refuge and what type of worship they would be singing that day. So a wonderful experience turned into me missing City of Refuge.
And then I realized that I had been changed. As much as I miss the Black Church and all that it entails, I have now become accustomed to the multiple types of worship that City of Refuge provides. We have sung in Amharic, French, Spanish, and English. I also found out that the Sunday I visited at St. Johns’ was African worship. So City of Refuge is expanding my knowledge of worship. Now that I know this other reality to be true, and am open to that reality, how can I do worship the same way and not acknowledge the different types of worship I have experienced? I SHOULD be able to worship God in the different languages individuals use to speak of Christ. If I chose to ignore it, is God the global God that people have been telling me about? Or is He the God only for people that look and worship Him in the same way as I do?
Lillian Smith is a current Mission Year Houston team member. Originally from Philadelphia, PA, she graduated from The University of Pittsburgh. Learn more or support her by visiting her donation page.