A friend asked me if I wanted to join her at a night of corporate worship at a church a decade ago in a nearby town. My friend and I were “church nomads” at that point, and we both missed the dynamic of gathering with others to worship. Neither of us knew anyone at the church, and I think we both expected a couple of hours of singing. The end.
As we walked into the church building, there was a palpable, nearly overwhelming sense of the nearness of God. This sense of simultaneous exposure and welcome staggered us both. The crowd was buzzing with excitement about the things God had been doing among them. People were being delivered from secret addictions; there were substantiated reports of physical healings; there was a heightened expectancy that the kingdom was really at hand. It wasn’t an abstract concept. It was, in this time and place, a tangible reality.
When the music started that night, the “liturgy” was a loose structure – there was a sense of willingness to cede the stage and set aside the carefully-planned, rehearsed program if the Spirit moved in an off-program way. There was a plea in every note the gathered crowd sang – “Come, Lord Jesus!” And He did. Oh, how He did.
A decade later, I look back and I remember that season in my life with gratitude.
And I wonder…why is what I experienced ten years ago so rare in so many of our churches? Your thoughts?