Pastor John Lyde Jr.
+ ENLARGE Pastor John Lyde Jr. delivers his sermon during a recent Sunday service at the Morning Star Missionary Baptist Church in Albany. (Paul Buckowski / Times Union)
All eyes will turn to Lyde
, standing at the pulpit, one hand on his
dog-eared Bible.He'll take a deep breath and launch into it -- a sermon he
spent the whole week working and praying on.A sermon he
hopes will be nothing less than life-changing for his
And it's not even Holy Week.
Indeed, as Holy Week begins today -- as Christians embark on the most important week in the church calendar, leading up to Easter Sunday next week -- Lyde
echoes a sentiment many church leaders share.
"Every week is Holy Week for us," says Lyde
, just before Sunday service March 13.
She'll pray for her
, who has Parkinson's disease.She'll pray for Lyde
so that the spirit will guide him.She'll pray for her
church, the oldest black Baptist church in the city, founded in 1894 -- not so much that it will grow in numbers, she
says, but grow in holiness.
Behind the sanctuary, Lyde
has slipped on his
gold and black robe.His
sermon about the blood of Christ is tucked in his
still unsure whether he
got it right -- whether he
did the word of God justice.
It's any given Sunday.It's show time.And he's
filled with fear -- a reverent fear, not a debilitating fear.He
has no way of knowing that two and half hours later, Washington will head home and call several church members to discuss how powerful his
sermon was.For now, he's
stuck with his
butterflies, praying they'll take flight -- in formation, arrow-shaped -- and pierce the most hardened of hearts.
As the crowd awaits their entrance, he
and several deacons and the choir gather in his
office, hand in hand in a circle.
They say a little prayer, eyes closed and heads bowed, asking God to fill them with his
presence and power.
They all give an "Amen."Lyde