At 8:30 am, the kids and nearby parishioners, dressed in their Sunday best, assembled on the football field next to the mission’s campus. The kids quietly bustled around awaiting the service as if they were anxious for a party to begin.
Fr. Tikpor introduced the Gospel reading under a homemade, palm archway before altar servers passed out reeds to the congregation. Benjamin, also known as Big Brother, directed the party animals into two lines, which followed the Crucifix into the chapel.
The parade of Liberians waved their palms overhead as they processed into the chapel singing “Hosanna!” in a rhythmic, native melody. The drum grew louder and the voices more jubilant as they re-enacted the Jews’ homecoming celebration for the King of Israel.
Echoes bounced off the empty chapel walls and quickly burgeoned into laughter, clapping and stomping, palm waving and – need I mention, singing – as the crowd filed into the church. Packed in, shoulder-to-shoulder, the congregation shifted its praise toward the Crucifix.
Marching behind the stoic altar servers, the youngest girls performed a synchronized, cultural dance on their way to the outskirts of the altar, where they remained and performed throughout the Eucharistic celebration.
A slower drum signaled the song’s end. The voices raised high and peaked at a harmony so overwhelmingly genuine, I had to close my eyes.
“This is worship.” Taking a deep breath, I let the resounding hymn fill my senses before quickly opening my eyes – a lame outsider’s attempt to rejoin the party. I my voice quickly rose to meet my family in song.
And what better way to prepare the Way of our Lord’s passion with such a jubilee – to celebrate his homecoming, His death,His resurrection?
His Way is our Life. And by preparing His Way – with a more traditional, solemn mass or a triumphant, Liberian celebration – we are reminded to live in Truth.
Be open, believe, be love.