Refill August 13, 2006

I went to church today.

That statement might not sound so surprising, as I can’t remember a Sunday when I was NOT in church. The difference today was that I was not leading worship, or even attending services at Calvary where, even when I am not preaching I am always “on duty”.

Today I had the day off and I was in town, so I leisurely slept late and meandered to worship services at a church in my neighborhood. I didn’t have to dress up, I didn’t have to review my sermon notes, I had no Sunday School lesson to prepare and no list of folks I needed to see.

And it was a soul-filling gift.

I found a good seat, not too far to the front and not way in the back. I loved the first quiet minutes of sitting alone in the pew while the light streamed in through the windows; gazing at the stained glass with the light coming through; watching the people around me greet each other with affection. And, truth be told, I probably could have left after the first hymn, Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah and felt that I had a profound worship experience, but I’m glad I stuck around to see all the children in the congregation tumbling up the aisle for the children’s sermon, to hear a word from the pastor that made me finally order that copy of The Message on CD so I can listen on the way to work in the mornings, and to listen to a rendition of “He’s Got The Whole World in His Hands” that made everyone (including the woman singing) cry.

It was a soul-filling gift.

I got to sit in worship and sing the hymns without worrying about who knew the tune and who didn’t; I could hear the admonition in the sermon without anxiety about the sound system; I could sit and let the words of the pastor flow over me like healing water for a parched land.

It was a soul-filling gift.

. . . because it reminded me how much I love worship; it helped me recall why planning and leading life-giving worship is so critical; it gave me some kernels of truth and challenge to chew on this week; it sent me back out into my world fortified for the week ahead and reminded me again of two important things:

1) The work we do to plan and lead worship is important work, as week in and week out we are creating space for world-weary folks to have their souls filled, and

2) Those of us who lead worship need the same experience.

Thanks, Rev. Rachel and the good folks at Woodside UMC, for the soul-filling gift of worship today.

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