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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  • ajt

    I always love to read your thoughts and thoughtful comments on life, but this one ESPECIALLY.

    So glad you had a morning like the one you described.

    Also so encouraged to hear the way you describe your work of planning and facilitating worship for the people in your congregation.

    I just got through a spring and summer school at a seminary where I had 47 services in 13 weeks. No consistent congregation as students were coming and going over 1-2 week periods.

    But I still cared deeply about providing them with meaningful, soul-refreshing moments like what you described.

    It is just good to hear that someone else is thinking about these things…

    Enjoy your days of rest!

  • Michael Westmoreland-White

    This is one reason why pastors, especially pastors who spend a longtime at one church, need sabbaticals. I miss our pastor, Rev. Cindy Weber, and will rejoice when she is back with us in October, but I know she and we are better off for giving her a sabbatical every 4 years.

  • Will

    Hi Amy

    I glade that I was not the only person that didn’t go to another church this Sunday… : ) From last week I been pondering about going to First Baptist Church on Sunday. But I did. Today I meet half way to church to get a ride to church with one of the member. Once I got there we when to fellowship hall for pancake bacon and more. We all taken a tray an stuff gift bag for the church member how lived in Thomas House and written a post card of First Baptist them like “to have a good day” “hope you enjoy you gift bag”. Plus “all our care and prayers Will”. I another person finish one. I wrote another post card. I made it.

    We were talking more then I started up to the main church taking my seat. Finding out there was 15 minute until sermon started. I walk to each stained glass. Each stained glass window had a famous Baptist missionary a pastor and more. I will be looking it up later.

    I had some black and white picture of another member apt when I was over there. He should it to a lot of people. Amy I really made his day. He put in two pictures from the picture I took and hope one of them make it to the picture of the week at First Baptist. Debbie was the pastor was preaching that day and she rarely get to preach because she the head of the ministries to children and their families. After sermon I got to take more pictures when with another member upper North West Washington, DC had brunch talk some more. I got to see more of Washington I haven’t been before. Don’t worry it an upper part of DC.

    During service the lessons 1 kings 19: 4-8 then it click that the same one Amy did in June 27 or July 4 of 2004. Because I buy the cassette. I know bible is the same but remembering the tape was a click from my church and First Baptist. Even were two church were one bible.

    I’m looking forward in being backed home next Sunday. Sometime we need to go away for a day or so to remind us that home is were to heart is.

    I what you to have a good week.

    You’re Friend

  • juniper68

    a great reminder that we all need to just GO to church sometimes….

  • revrachel

    And thanks for being there yesterday, Amy. I am so glad it was a renewing experience for you. It was a gift for me to have a familiar, friendly and supportive face there among the others that I am getting to know. (And I was worried about the sermon, so it’s good to be reminded that the Holy Spirit uses our efforts both as preachers and as listeners!)