Time check; 11am on December 25, 2018, at a Pentecostal church in Wakiso District. A record number of seemingly animated Christian adherents have turned up to commemorate the birth of our messiah, Jesus Christ. I have also taken an unusual decision this morning to get counted as a churchgoer.
Before long, a youthful pastor steps onto the podium with the charm and poise of a truly anointed shepherd. I at first sight dismiss him as some newly converted novice on a trial exercise. But when he starts to deliver his sermon for the day, he easily comes off as an exemplary curate. He is measured in his presentation, meticulously astute, disarmingly frank, poignantly eloquent and yet intellectually aggressive.
Forget about your everyday pastor’s theatrical preaching style; miracle healing powers; repetitive ‘Praise the Lord chants’ or even the now fashionable corruption of God as ‘Gaad’. This pint-sized preacher is a class apart. So classic and captivating is the juvenile pastor’s preaching that I have since resolved never to miss his service.
But alas, there is a sad side to it too. I particularly take issue with a lady who waltzes in late with her skimpy see-through attire that leaves very little (if any) for unholy imagination! She is in the company of an equally cantankerous male partner in baggy wear, who walks with a typical ghetto swagger completely oblivious of the eyebrow-raising effect of their eccentric arrival. The flamboyant man sits on the pew immediately in front of the one the lady has taken. The two frequently keep stealing lustful glances at one another and it is amply obvious that the couple still has some unfinished business to accomplish!
When it comes to singing the praise song which the pastor has picked on, the man is hypocritically too loud, exuberant and bubbly. He sings like a spiritually possessed religious zealot and uses body language to reinforce the entertainment value of his performance. He cranes his neck to force out a high or low pitch voice level; leans forwards or backwards for dramatic effect; closes his eyes in an apparent appeal for divine intervention; clap his hands ostensibly in glorious praise of God and rhythmically tap his right foot while seductively smiling at the lady in front! Clearly, the wayward actions and behaviour of this amorously engaged pair has a disruptive effect on the attention span of the nearby onlookers. I reckon several people (including myself) do not maximally benefit from the youthful pastor’s rich discourse.
While Jesus urges people to go to Him the way they are, I think church administrations ought to demand for some minimum standards of moral decency from churchgoers – if only to create a worshipper-friendly environment. And any errant individuals should be appropriately sanctioned. A church service is a wrong forum for romantic courtships or any such showy conduct. May the good Lord grant us a happy and prosperous New Year!
Henry Edison Okurut