This experience was actually filled with new things. Never have I ever been to Rising Hope. Never have I ever been to a church with people so different from myself. Never have I ever been spoken about directly in a sermon, felt so welcome, eaten Krispy Kreme for lunch. Really the list goes on and on.
My friend Jenny had been to Rising Hope the weekend before and said it was great. She wanted another friend named Hannah and I to check it out. Being that this is the year of the new, I was up for it. This church seeks to reach out to the community living in poverty south of Alexandria along the route 1 corridor (this information is taken from their website, linked above).
I have gone to church for most of my life, it has always been a very different experience than this. I walked in and the greeter grabbed my hand with a huge smile on her face. WELCOME! she said, and I really did feel welcome. After walking up the stairs the usher welcomed me again and asked me where I wanted to sit. I spotted Jenny and Hannah among the people singing and dancing. It felt almost like a party. No joke.
The passing of the peace is a pretty standard part of church. In my history it involves shaking hands with the people around you, kissing the people you came with and saying hello and “Peace of the Lord.” Fairly standard. Usually lasts a minute? Here, it felt like it lasted a half an hour, but it was probably 5 minutes. No one stayed in their seats except us. They danced around the room shaking hands and hugging like crazy. I think everyone came to say hi to us. We were high fived at least once.
The people at this church were fairly amazing. There was a lot of talk about the practical, how their children could get new shoes from an organization, where a job training class was going to be taken. People were very thankful for what they had and the growth and changes they had seen in their lives.
I was so impressed with the entire congregation, with the whole service. It is good to step out of your comfort zone sometimes. Switch things up a little. Do new things. Never have I ever….
to finish off the day, we went to Krispy Kreme for lunch. Never had I ever*. Maria writes about going to exercise classes and I eat donuts for lunch.
*had Krispy Kreme for lunch. I had been there before, of course.