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The School of Joy

I preached at Bethel Gospel Tabernacle in Jamaica-Queens, New York, one Sunday in 1992. The song service was very black, very Pentecostal, very joyful, worshiping not only with hearts and voices but with bodies and faces. As I stood up front with my friend, Pastor Roderick Caesar, I was doing my white best to move with them.

They were all smiling at me in a big way and I was feeling cool, free, and soulful. Roderick leaned over and said, "You know why they're smiling, don't you?" No, I didn't. He chuckled and said, "It's because you don't know how to dance." I laughed, but my face turned red. Then I looked at their smiles again. It was OK with them that I couldn't dance and they could. They were smiling at me, not laughing. Maybe we could work out an agreement: I'd teach them something from the Word of God, they'd teach me something of the joy of God.

I was raised to prefer a mild Aristotelian joy, as in the philosopher Aristotle who defined good as the mean between two extremes. I didn't ...

From Issue:Fall 2001: The Prayer Driven Church
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