Traveling, seeing family, exploring new places is so much fun (after the packing part is complete, that is–which is the worst part of travel for me!).
One fun part of travel for me is attending church. When you are on staff at a church (as I am), or once you become a leader, servant volunteer, etc., attending church takes on a whole new element. You see and experience church through a whole new set of lenses.
For me personally, I’m looking intently for where God is moving in the worship service.
-Is there someone who needs to be prayed with?
-Is there a guest who needs to be welcomed?
-Is God trying to get my attention through the message to convict me of a particular sin?
-With expectancy and anticipation, I ask within my spirit, where is the Holy Spirit going to move today?
I’m also looking for the tangible needs of church goers. For example:
-Is the heater on in the ladies restroom, since it’s such a cold morning?
-Is there a box of tissues near the person who’s been moved to tears?
-Are there enough volunteers for the children…let me see if I have a text letting me know if I’m needed to snuggle a little muffin in the nursery.
-Does the person who is doing the announcements know when to go up on stage, etc.
When I’m traveling, I get to leave these particular set of lenses at home, and it’s for this reason that I approach a new worship service with excitement, because I get to JUST BE.
Just be in attendance.
Just be in a chair/pew that I was able to walk straight to and sit down.
Just be just a face in the crowd.
Please know my heart here, I wouldn’t trade my church lenses for anything in the world! I love my local church, and I love the privilege of serving my Lord there! It’s the same reason why a vacation from work is good for the soul of an employee. It just mixes things up for a bit, allowing employees to return renewed and refreshed.
So, when my family was visiting my husband’s grandfather this past week, I was looking forward to the worship service, even though it wasn’t in a traditional church building, but rather in the community center of the retirement community.
This was the same community center where we had played BINGO the night before and shopped a community yard sale the morning before. Being transparent, I didn’t know just what kind of worship service I was going to experience, and wasn’t really expecting much, but I was grateful to be without those lenses and just be. I was warned that there would be a lot of “Amen”s that would be voiced, but that was all the intel I had on the service.
Almost instantly, the worship of the people around me engulfed me and I was the one moved to tears. In fact, quiet tears streamed down my face for almost the duration of the service.
The choir opened with a song that began, “I woke up this morning and I was feeling mighty fine!” This choir was made up of people who quite literally were celebrating that they woke up that morning! They meant every word they sang, and their faces reflected it.
Side note–on the way to the community center that morning, we stopped when my husband’s grandfather saw people he knew. These people were cleaning out their neighbor’s trailer home who could no longer make the trip to the warmer weather where we were. His family had sold his trailer, his car, and the neighbors were helping clean out the trailer. This was not an uncommon occurrence in the community, and in fact, on our strolls in the evening, we noticed the little white crosses that dotted some of the yards, indicating that the residence of that home is now a widow.
When these people were rejoicing that God woke them up that morning,
they meant it.
It was for much of the same reason that there were so many “Amen”s voiced.
-With every promise from scripture that was voiced, they believed it.
-With every hope that Christ brings, they had lived it.
-With the promise of eternal life, they looked forward to it.
-With the ability to be in that community center worshipping, they treasured each moment.
This worship was alive! More alive than most worship services of which I had been in attendance. They taught me so much about worship, and specifically not to take one moment of corporate worship for granted.
It’s for this reason, that I found the most alive worship in the most unlikely of places, for I had yet to stop and consider what worship would be like in a retirement community center.
And now I know.
For as the song said, they are feeling mighty fine, ’cause they have heaven on their mind!
“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
Lord, thank You for the perspective You provided me by using seasoned Christians around me in worship. Father, when life revs up, when storms come, when a walk through the valley of the shadow of death is unavoidable, please fill my mind with heavenly things, so I can feel mighty fine in light of eternity. Please lead me to seek Your kingdom, Your righteousness, first in all things. Thank You, Lord, for the hope that is heaven. Thank You for Jesus, who provides the way to You, to heaven, to eternity. May I live my life in way that points others to You and the salvation You bring. Amen.