As a young girl, I understood what was expected of me before I climbed the winding staircase to the church hall.
"La-Toya, no horse playing, be on your best behavior and no nodding off during the service." To me this was a small order. Monday through Saturday: corn-rows, jeans and goofing off. Sunday morning: pressed hair, a wrinkled-free dress and pleasing behavior.
When I approached 20, I wondered about the majority of people who came to church expecting the pastor's sermon to release the guilt, sorrow or impatience within their daily lives.
Why is the unexpected in our lives considered a tragedy in our "personal corner," but a blessing when we listen to the scriptures about Jesus performing the unexpected?
Each Sunday, practicing Christians attend the temple of worship ready for the "Amen corner," hungry for the word of God and deliverance from burdens spoken and unspoken through a bowed head and closed eye. But many don't understand the difference between the expected and unexpected in the house of God.
Struggling to be in a relationship with God as well as the servant of God, I needed to see the unexpected blossom in the house of God by the people of God.
In my church, there was a 7-year-old girl who used to swing her head from side to side every chance she got. She liked to watch the color of the barrettes hit the cheeks of her face. If one barrette fell from her braid, to the ladies room she would go to wash it and apply it back in its proper place.
One Sunday, a guest pastor preached about "Giving from the heart, not just the pocket." He spoke of current issues in the news and relayed the story of the woman who offered her last two pennies at the temple. Following the sermon, the collection plate came floating through the aisles. I placed my money in the offering, thinking, "There goes my cigarette money." I definitely gave from the pocket.
Seated in front of me was the 7-year-old girl. When the offering plate came to her row, she began removing her barrettes as a tithe to the collection.
The unexpected in our lives can be just as profound as Mary pouring expensive perfume on Jesus' feet with her hair.
To the little girl without barrettes hitting her chocolate cheeks, thank you.
La-Toya Moore is a member of Beloved Community UCC in Birmingham. Ala. Focus on Faith is a reader-written column to help readers grow in their faith. We welcome contributions from laity and clergy.