Our church being a good typical baptist church, it does many things you might experience in your average baptist church (though being missionary baptist, there are also a lot of other things you surely won’t experience in your average baptist church). One of these things is your weekly altar call at the end of the sermon. Only they don’t call it the altar call. In the program, the altar call is when we all come to the center of the church, hold hands, pray, and then give nearly everyone in the building a hug.
They call it “invitation to christian experience or candidate for baptism.” It’s easy to be cynical about these times, especially if you’ve grown up in some form of baptist or conservative church setting. But I’ve seen a lot of goodness in these times. I’ve seen God work in people’s lives on many occasions.
After people have come forward, Pastor Howard always walks around down off the pulpit stage to the area by the front pews. He gets down on his knees and prays for them, often after he gives them a pointed admonishment (he knows many of them–he knows everyone). Not long ago, he finished praying and the deacons supported his arms to help him get up. And then he said, “It’s a privilege just to be able to get on your knees.”
Being a young man, I don’t usually give a second thought to something so simple. And yet it truly is a privilege. It’s easy to take things for granted when you are young and mostly healthy.
His statement also struck me on a deeper level as well. For what are the things that we usually think of when we think of having a privilege? We usually think of opportunity. Of power. Of uniqueness. Of access. And some of these apply to his statement.
But our opportunity is the privilege of access to commune with the God of the universe through the humble act of giving up our power, of a submissive action that we can share with anyone else who would invoke their freedom to lay themselves down and offer up a few words to something greater than ourselves, to someone greater than ourselves. To do so is to acknowledge that we are not the boss, that we don’t have the power to control our lives. And our privilege is to know that we have don’t have to let ourselves be ruled by the authority of ourselves, freeing us from all those limitations and fears we hold.
Now if only we could really believe and trust in that reality. Then we could see who are the real privileged among us.