“Are you sure there’s a Church here?” I asked my husband.
Our Church had been found lacking, so we decided to take a sabbatical and see how other parts of Christ’s Body functioned. We were tired in our well doing and drained in our souls.
We found the Church listed in our local newspaper. That morning we pulled up to the address given and there before us was a Jewish Temple. “Have you noticed any people going into the building?” I asked. “Nope, no activity at all.” Finally, we spotted a small banner to the side of the entrance with the Church’s name.
We entered the foyer and ascended a few stairs. On a small table we noted a few Bibles, bulletins and other printed literature. “This looks right.” I whispered. A man came through the door and warmly greeted us. We exchanged names and he mentioned he was the Pastor. He explained that this was a new Church Plant, and the people of the Temple had graciously made their facility available to them on Sundays.
Behind him was the door to the ‘unknown’ and taking my arm, he ushered us into a large room.
The room was familiar with rows of pews. Light was pouring through large, plain windows revealing four stark walls-no trimmings, no beauty of its own. Looking around, we saw the Pastor’s family and another couple. Having noted a large room downstairs where we first entered their door, I whispered knowingly to my husband, “Sunday School must be running late.”
Soon, the Pastor took his place behind the podium and announced the hymn selection. He must have seen the quick look that past between my husband and myself. Or maybe the confusion we were feeling was broadcast across our faces. He certainly gave us eye contact as he announced; “A lot of our people are away this weekend, but I’m sure we can still make a joyful noise unto the Lord.” To the right of him a woman began to play her keyboard, accompanied by a young man with a trumpet and a sweet girl with a violin. There in that large, almost empty place, words of a familiar hymn wafted upward blessing the heart of God and touching my troubled heart as well.
Then the man in the pulpit lifted our little congregation before the throne of God. His words were simple but filled with beauty. Sweet words of praise filled the air and my inner being with the awareness that this man was intimately acquainted with my Jesus.
After one more song he began his sermon. The passion with which he opened the Word of God was as intense as if he were preaching in a great cathedral filled to capacity. As he instructed us in the Word of God, his countenance almost glowed.
With every sentence he uttered, I could hear a voice within me saying, “Amen, Amen.”
By the time the service was over, and the last handshake completed…by the time we received our last ‘God Bless’ and walked out the door, we were filled to overflowing with the love of God.
Later, during quiet reflection regarding this experience of worship, I could not help asking my heavenly Father why there had been such a difference.
It was true, we went to Church that morning with a felt need in our innermost being and a willingness to step out of our ‘comfort zone’ and established practices. It was also true that we had no agenda or cluttered thoughts of the people, the Pastor or Church politics.
We entered a building without extreme comforts, inspiring aesthetics or ornate majesty to distract us. But we were enveloped by love.
The Church was without well-practiced choirs, orchestras and pipe organs, a professional worship leader or many voices. Yet, praise and worship had truly taken place there.
And then there was the Pastor. He joyfully, lovingly was pouring himself out for his little flock. Without a doctorate, or the literacy of a scholar, his words were simple, delivered under the anointing of the Holy Spirit.
Recognizing these truths, I realized my inability to worship at my own Church had more to do with the cluttering of my soul with all the ‘makings’ of a Church, focusing inward rather than upward.
That day I attended Temple, all externals were laid bare; all that was evident and needed was God’s Presence; all that took place was pure worship.
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