I had so much fun experiencing the love of Christ in this new way. Although the methods were unfamiliar to me, His love was certainly not.

I was raised in a small, conservative Catholic church in Northeast Louisiana. For most of my life, I attended St. Paschal Catholic Church in West Monroe, where we quietly recited our prayers and sang along to hymns. We received communion and bowed our heads to pray. Aside from a brief time in a more laid back Methodist church, that pretty much sums up my religious experience.

Or at least it did until I attended a service at Emmanuel Baptist Church in Donaldsonville on a night that the Southern University Gospel Choir performed. To say the least, I was not ready.

My understanding of worship has changed in so many ways. I always thought of it as reciting the Hail Mary or praying the Rosary, perhaps talking to God in the quiet of my meditation or kneeling during an Adoration. It was an incredible experience to see people sing praise in a different way.

All I can say is the members of Emmanuel Baptist Church throw down for Jesus. It was a party in every sense of the word. There was singing and dancing and clapping of hands. Their church choir was equally as impressive as the Southern choir, in my opinion. I thought it was a lively celebration already, but when the SU Gospel Choir started up, I could see it had only just begun.

I had chills seeing and hearing the Holy Spirit fill the hearts of everyone in the church. It seemed His love truly bubbled up inside the people and came out in exclamations of praise and thanksgiving. I was, admittedly, unprepared but amazed by the spirit that overwhelmed everyone in the room.

Even praying was a new experience. As a Catholic, I typically bow my head when someone leads a prayer, taking in their words and ending with the sign of the cross. Sunday night was a different story. People in the pews seemed to join in the prayer themselves with their own words of affirmation and praise. They cried out "Amen!" and "Thank you, Lord" as the ministers prayed over them. For someone whose group prayers tend to include the Apostle's Creed, that was definitely new to me.

I had so much fun experiencing the love of Christ in this new way. Although the methods were unfamiliar to me, His love was certainly not. I probably didn't blend in very well, not knowing the words to the songs or having much rhythm to dance along, but I did not feel out of place. It was clear that anyone and everyone was welcome in this House of the Lord.

If you have never attended a worship service outside of your home church, I highly recommend it. Visit a church that doesn't practice the way you do and watch the light of Christ come to life in different ways. Meet new people and learn about the ways they worship. It's an eye opening experience and a lot of fun too.

It may be a different church, but it's all the same God.

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