Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Worship (corporate) (10/04/07)
TITLE: HIDDEN IN THE CLEFT
By Celeste Duckworth
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When I saw that our subject was to be Worship, I began to write with a personal experience in my mind, but upon reviewing I noticed the assignment in parenthesis said, “(corporate).” There is an experience of when the supernatural presence of God happened in 1978 in a church service to everyone who came to church that Sunday.
It was one of those balmy, breezy days not too hot, not too cold at our small church in Southern California. The Charismatic Movement was coming to a close and the season of the Spirit was changing to the new thing God had ordained for the next spiritual feast for His saints.
Our service started like any other service and the worship began in much a normal way except for some unique stirrings. By this mention I would point out that there usually was plenty of room to sit in our services in the church, even on busy Sundays.
But today for an oddity, the people kept streaming in. Many of these people were new faces. I noticed the ushers scrambling to set up folding chairs in our extra room in the back. Soon, however, that room was also full. Full to the extent that the folding chairs where up against the back of the church wall. Even then the people kept coming in surging forward as if drawn by an unknown source.
My first thought was, “What is going on? This makes no sense?”
Soon our 400 seating capacity was jammed and now the people were standing in the aisles and the ushers were asking the congregation to move together to allow more seating. The other curious spectacle was the fact that during this mass entrance of people, the congregation never broke stride with their worship. But then it happened: a holy hush descended in the worship time and not even a prophetic word was to be heard, nor a child crying. The deeper the silence, the quieter the people became. This silence had a heavy weight to it. The feeling was if we moved, the moment would be destroyed, but not in a bad way. Much like the congregation united was alert but careful to not undo what was being done.
This silence was not an uncomfortable long but an embraced wanting of more. I knew something was about to happen. When I sense the Spirit of the Lord moving I often smell His presence and feel His stirring as the High Priest in Jesus’ day when they would brush past the Jewish nation to enter the temple and then the Holy of Holies. I felt the ringing of the Priests’ bells, the brush of His garments and the smell of cinnamon incense. The entire Jewish nation would stand with anticipation as Yahweh would soon visit them. The anticipation was unanimous. So it was for this Sunday and this moment.
This intense eternal moment for this Sunday was out of the realm of time itself. I slid from my chair to lower my face to ground for something holy was happening. On the way down I glanced and the entire church had done the same without one word of instruction.
The moment was tense, sweet, loving, and pure all at the same time. I could hear weeping in various locations not to mention my own. This was followed by one lone voice singing, muffled, as she was face down also. The words were not recognizable but the sound was like bells ringing. It was repeated again with more volume and soon another voice added to the first. It was repeated again, and again and again as many earthly and heavenly voices entered the timeless melody. Now the entire church was singing a song no one had ever really heard before. In my ears it sounded like church bells but softer and inside me. I was afraid to look out but at that moment felt the embracing loving arms of my Savior wrapping around my shoulders, and as the weeping increased through the sound of bells ringing, all my tension, fears and hurting left me somehow. It was a moment that I was hidden in the cleft of the Rock and the world itself was no longer existed, only this...an eternal moment with my God, reaching out for me and the congregation in His love and wanting to Be with all of us. The Ancient of Days embracing those He loves.
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