Monday, February 4, 2013

Church #3

My fear is not that our great movement, known as the Methodists, will eventually cease to exist or one day die from the earth. My fear is that our people will become content to live without the fire, the power, the excitement, the supernatural element that makes us great. ~John Wesley

There is nothing like a little tiff on the way to church that can taint your mood and your first impressions of a church to which you have never been before. Having a parking attendant telling where to park and asking you to move up just another six inches after you have placed the van in park would have been funny to us usually, but not that morning. We had arrived early and were directed to park next to the entrance, which I would have thought should be reserved for the handicapped, and why my husband had initially picked a space further away.

As churches go this was medium size by my standards, which meant in this place that every parking space is used and then some. The sanctuary had plenty of empty seats though, so it was not crowded but comfortably filled. A few people introduced themselves. One explained that during the worship time we could leave our seats and worship up in front or in the aisles and that the flags were there for anyone who wanted to use them. She seemed to be interested in making us feel comfortable. The Princess went for a pair of flags and stood waving them in the front as soon as the music started—and she still tries to claim that she is shy!

A well-rehearsed band led the praise and worship and went on for a long time, probably at least an hour, with people doing whatever they were comfortable doing during it. The music was bit loud for my taste and the songs were all unknown to us. At times, some people jumped up and down, some clapped, some shouted words of praise, some raised hands, and some were on their knees on the floor. The Princess was waving flags and changed them out for different colors and sizes at times.

There were Words of Knowledge, speaking in tongues, and healings, things we wanted to to see in the church service. My husband and I had come from conservative, traditional, conventional churches where you sit when you are told to sit, stand when you are told to stand, sing when you are told to sing, read responsively when you are told to do that, and the rest of the time you are to be quiet. This church was quite the opposite of that, more so than the first two churches we had visited...well, maybe not more so than Church #2, but there just were more people at this one so it had a different feel to it all.

There were people there of all ages and quite a few children. The senior pastor's wife is also a pastor and is the director of an accredited homeschool school—as odd as that sounds—that has classes two days a week for each grade and extra tutoring on Friday. After the service, which was for nearly 2½ hours, we were invited to have some food, mostly things like scones and cookies I think, but we declined after my husband saw the time because he needed to go to work a little later.

Now, I have to say that I probably would have liked it more if we not walked in with a bad attitude to start. I also have to say that at one point I began feeling like I could not stand any longer. I felt shaky from the anointing as I can when I am in prayer for healing someone. Following that the pastor shared a word of knowledge about someone there needing for a new disc in the spine and then there was a call for healing anyone with rheumatoid arthritis. Here I was with all these people who really believe in healing and I had felt workings of the Holy Spirit just before there was the call for healings! Wow! So very powerful! It was just so strange to me, as if this is how it should be and yet I felt like...well, I can only describe it as someone who has been gone from home for a very long time and then returning. It is familiar, but not, at the same time.

As we drove on our way home, I kept thinking how sad I was for people in churches who miss out on such workings of the Holy Spirit in their midst. I am sure wherever Jesus was that there was such things going on. Still, it is different for us as well, but we are ready for different. The Princess loved that everyone worshiped freely and while she was into the flag waving more than focusing on the  praise itself probably, at least she was participating and not at all not bored. While I like the praise and worship, and I feel they seek the Holy Spirit's leading, I felt the beginning of the sermon was delivered with a more hype than depth, but it certainly did end with soul searching and surrendering.

The Princess definitely wants to revisit this church—she is so shy! We feel we might like to go again also, hopefully starting out with better moods.

~ My Lord, I am enjoying the many ways my Christian brothers and sisters worship you. Thank you for this time to experience churches where the workings of the Holy Spirit are on fire, powerful, and exciting. ~

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Thank you fellow travelers for walking and talking with me along this journey.