On Sunday morning January 29th, 2023, Manhattan Citadel Corps opened its morning Holiness Meeting with a rolling choir lifting up their voices to that familiar hymn written by Albert Goodson, “We’ve Come This Far by Faith”. Although this rolling group is not a choir in the traditional sense of the word, they are a group of men and women who regularly attend Manhattan Citadel Corps and often make up their own “back roll” because they are all in a wheelchair. This author may have written prior to that Sunday morning, they were all restricted to a wheelchair, however after listening to their testimonies and their witness as to how God has worked in their lives, restricted is not the right word!
Although she herself could not stand, Sister Barbara, invited the congregation to stand for the reading of the text from the Book of Micah, text 4:6-7.
“In that day”, declares the Lord, “I will gather the lame; I will assemble the exiles and those I have brought to grief. I will make the lame a remnant, those driven away a strong nation, The Lord will rule over them in Mount Zion from that day and forever.
For many in the congregation we were able to see the working of the Lord right in front of our eyes “…making the lame a remnant”. Strength being given to those who so often in our society we walk around, ignore, and give very little attention to, and even worse sometime even mock. After the scripture reading and with the congregation still standing Sister Barbara and Sister Martha lead the congregation in prayer.
Corp Officer Major Silvia Machado-Ocasio and the worship team did not want this morning to be anything but a worship service highlighting the Glory of God and demonstrating the Power of God to and for all of us who worship at Manhattan Citadel. Someone during the worship lifted up the idea, how they may use the wheelchair to get around, but their lives are “not bound” to the wheelchair. They may be “handicapped” but they are not “disabled”.
Marcus, gave his testimony as to how he was a professional dancer who was injured in a auto accident several years ago, and now he teaches at a City College and is an Advocate for the handicapped in both the local and national discussions. Sandra and Lisa talked about victories in their lives and how Jesus Christ made a difference in their lives. Robert shared about the abuses he suffered while at Willowbrook Institution in the 70’s. They shared about those dark and lonely moments, but they also shared how the Light always came in the morning. Their lives and struggles were all different, but each knew that they had experienced and were still experiencing the Grace of God in their lives Today.
The sermon was given by Sister Valerie who spoke from the book of 2nd Corinthians (12:7-l0) where Paul is speaking about “a thorn in his flesh”. The text tells us how Paul pleaded with God to take away the impediment, just as each speaker during our worship expressed how they did not deny there was pain, displeasure, discomfort, and the asking of God to take this burden away. However, at the end of the day, just like Paul they were all able to hear and welcome the Words of the Lord, “My Grace is sufficient for you”. And just like Paul, each is able to say with conviction.
“Therefore, I will boast of the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardship, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
The congregation gave a sense of personal connection to the leaders of this worship, as well as keen sense of appreciation for their own conditions and situations. Many persons, both young and old moved from their pews to the Mercy Seat. Many took away from the worship service we are all restricted, we are all handicapped, but we are all able to experience the Grace of God. Sometimes however, we are so blinded by the life and struggles of this world we forget the Amazing Grace that we receive daily from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.