The Yada Yada Prayer Group Gets Decked Out

The Yada Yada Prayer Group Gets Decked Out by Neta Jackson

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Authors: Neta Jackson
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Sisulu-Smiths might be coming home soon. I know they were close to you and the Douglasses. Do you have any news?”
    I liked “First Lady Rose,” though we hadn’t become close friends or anything. She was a motherly sort, fifty-something, with grown kids and grandkids, and she “mothered” the merged congregation with a smiling grace I usually found inspiring . . . that is, except for the times I felt annoyed at her seemingly unflappable perfection. Didn’t she ever get mad? Pick her nose? Burn the roast?
    The Voice in my spirit gave me a slap upside the head . When was the last time you prayed for Rose Cobbs, Jodi? It’s hard to be a pas-tor’s wife! Especially when the congregation is a melting pot of races and cultures. She gets discouraged, just like you do. She needs encouragement, just like you do. Encourage her!
    I hugged her back. “Last I heard, they’re coming back to sell their house and return to South Africa on a more permanent basis.” I saw her smile fade. “I know. I’m disappointed too. God has used Nony in my life in a big way. I miss her.”
    Rose Cobbs nodded. “Yes. Nonyameko and Mark used to come to our home to pray for us—before Mark suffered that terrible beating, I mean. They were such an encouragement to Pastor and me . . . ” She put on her smile again. “But I just thank God we will get to see them for a little while. When did you say they were coming?” “They were such an encouragement to Pastor and me” echoed in my head. “Uh, last I heard, they’re coming home sometime the week after Christmas.” I gave a little laugh. “See? I said ‘coming home’ too. Nony, no doubt, would say South Africa is home.”
    â€œYes. Yes . . . well, thank you, Sister Jodi.”
    The Voice in my spirit nudged again. Encourage her! I grabbed her hand as Rose Cobbs started to leave. “Sister Rose, could we . . . could we go out for coffee or something sometime? After the holidays maybe. I’d love to hear about those grandkids.”
    To my surprise, her eyes filled with tears. She took hold of my hand with both of hers. “Yes! I’d like that very much. As for the grandkids . . . ” Her voice dropped to a whisper. “Please pray for our oldest. Janiqua, she’s autistic—and thirteen now. It’s getting very hard for her parents.”
    Autistic . . . Oh Lord, I had no idea.
    I pulled out the small notebook I kept with my Bible and wrote J-a-n-i-k-w-a (sp?) just as the lights dimmed. Denny joined me in the seat I’d saved for him. The eight teenage girls Amanda had trained took their place at the back with lighted candles. The saxophone opened up with a few bars of “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel,” but kept low beneath the words of the young soloist off to the side:
    O come, thou Key of David, come
    And open wide our heavenly home . . .
    Once again, the dancers in their dark skirts and white blouses stepped confidently and in unison up the two aisles between the three sections of chairs.
    Make safe the way that leads on high
    And close the path to misery!
    As the girls fanned out at the front, the hand holding the can-dle lifted up high, while the other hand pushed backward as if closing a door on misery.
    The congregation joined in:
    Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
    Shall come to thee, O Israel !
    Three pairs of girls stepped forward, each pair lighting one of the candles of the Advent wreath.
    Third Sunday of Advent . . . one to go. And then Christmas.
    Pastor Clark—a widower who’d been pastor of Uptown Community (mostly white) before we merged with New Morning (mostly black) and became SouledOut Community Church—preached on the Old Testament prophecies that the coming Messiah would be the “Son of David,” born in “David’s city,” Bethlehem. Then he used New Testament scriptures to show how Jesus had fulfilled those prophecies,

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