Week Four of my Finding Fingerprints adventure. I’m visiting a different church every week to see all the cool things that God is up to in the various gatherings of believers in Jesus in my community. John 17, baby — Let’s find that unity that Jesus wanted for us!
Sunday #4, Sept. 28, 2014
A large United Methodist Church at a lightly-attended Liturgical Service (about 40 people for their final of 3 Sunday services)
Message: I Cor. 13:1-8a “Radiating God’s Love”
The building is huge and like a maze, and we parked in the rear and came in through the back door, so we were quickly lost. The people were very friendly, and in no time a lady offered to be our guide. They have a contemporary service meeting in one hall in the building at the same time that their third liturgical service meets upstairs in the sanctuary. An usher greeted us with coffee mugs and cookies and another warm welcome; nice people.
Formal, beautiful sanctuary, but the congregation is small at the 11:00 Liturgical service (maybe 40) so the pastor came down into the center aisle and kept the service conversational rather than staying in the pulpit. I loved the music; I like how Methodist hymnals have songs with tunes I know (classical pieces, old folk songs, etc.) with lyrics to the glory of God.
The prayer time was most remarkable to me. Before the morning prayer time, the pastor shared items from the news in the last few weeks, reminding us of our responsibility to pray for the community, the country and the world. We lifted up together by name victims of violent crime in recent news, the countries of the Middle East where the crisis seems hopeless, and we together declared God’s sovereignty over all of those situations.
The Bible message was short and sweet, teaching from a well-known passage on love, but still offering something real to chew on. Fred and I both found personal challenge in his image of “radiating” God’s love; that when we are filled with and guided by God’s love, it not only shines to light darkness around us, but it gives off warmth to anyone who gets close to us. He talked about a love that radiates warmth in spite of irritation, kind words in spite of frustration. It was timely for both of us; we’d had a frustrating and irritating evening the night before.
Getting out the door was, of course, a challenge. Jonah’s graduation party was at our house at 4:00, and I was up early cooking like mad. I never made it into the shower, but I got cleaned up enough to be presentable and we rushed off. It was well worth the effort. We visited with the senior pastor (he came right to us at the close of service) and found him to be warm and genuine and easy to talk to.
Oh, and the organ Toccata Giocosa (Martin) that was played for the postlude literally made me cry. The power of God, reflected in music!