Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Two Church Tales and A View

Today I'm going to tell you two stories. I'm going to let God speak to your heart about each story.

Please let me know your views.

Many years ago I worked and lived in Louisville, Ky while attending seminary there. I worked in two very different churches helping out with their Special Needs ministries.

Church #1 was a large church, a mega-church. While there, we were fortunate enough to be one of two churches chosen to be visited by President Bush #1 (Current one's father). He was campaigning in our city and wanted to attend church. Because of the way security is around Presidents no one knew for sure which one he would attend. I lived in one of the church owned houses on the property and was amazed at how everything catered to the safety of the President's arrival including traffic on the roads close to the church.
Because, no church alive has ever been able to keep secrets it was known all over town the morning before, that President Bush may attend our church. Even though only the Pastor knew for sure the next morning, the church was packed out with people wanting a glimpse of the President. Secret Service men were at every door. A section of the sanctuary was reserved and marked off for the President and his party. Everyone was a little on edge and excitement sizzled through the air. I sat on the other side of the sanctuary from where President Bush sat. Partly because that is where us singles always sat, and partly because I was disturbed a little by all the pomp and circumstance. But I too couldn't help but sneak a glance over in that direction, just to see if I could see him too. Our pastor did a fine job and the choir sang extra good too. Everything went really well. The service was the talk of the staff meeting the next day. We all grinned when our pastor handed out copies of the visitor's slip he had signed for the church. I immediately stuck mine in my Bible. It is still in that same Bible today. But a question kept nagging at me and even as I relate this story today it still haunts me. Why all the fuss for the President of the United States, when we have the King of Kings here every Sunday?

The other church I was only at a short while, helping them get their ministry started. This church was what some would classify as a high church. It is formal and ritualistic in its worship style. In this church women did not wear pants. The hymns were old and extremely traditional.
No Southern Gospel or Contemporary music was sung here. In fact I don't ever remember any music that wasn't provided by an organ or piano.
Worship there was very quiet and serene.

It was Palm Sunday. I sat in the row behind my group of Special Adults who were from a nearby institution. Another lady in the church had begun bringing them and a ministry had been born. I have to admit I was daydreaming as the preacher was getting to the death of Jesus on the cross. I grew up in a little more lively a service.
That's when it happened. One of the special needs ladies in front of me stood up grabbed her head and screamed, "OH NO! They've killed my Jesus!" The realization of the cross had hit her for the first time. Quickly I and the lady who brought her sat her down and began consoling her. If we had thought it was quiet before...I don't think anybody but us was even breathing! The pastor after a few shocked minutes gathered himself and added (Probably for one of the only times in his life) an adlib to his message. "Well, we know that next Sunday we will celebrate Jesus coming back to life." The lady calmed down and everything resumed, but not as normal. I was trying not to giggle. Oh how I wanted to laugh out loud! I wanted to ask everyone that morning a question. I didn't. It wouldn't have been proper at the time. And to tell you the truth I'm not sure I would have liked their answers. So I'll ask you:

Who preached the message that morning?

Let me know what you think about my two churches and a view!

Oh, one more thing. My great Aunt Lily is on her death bed. It is just a matter of moments now. Zoie has been asked to sing at her funeral. So has my husband. Please pray for them neither has ever sung at funerals before. Zoie loves Aunt Lily and wants to do it. Pray God will give her His strength. Please don't tell me you think I'm doing the wrong thing(even if you think I am) for letting her do it. We have prayed a lot about this and I believe it is what the Lord wants. We are acting on faith.

Thank you!
I love you all deeply!


On Purpose said...

Dearest Zoie to see your name on the blog today brought a smile to my face...your name is so beautiful...please share with me someday the story of how you got your name! And I can only imagine if I think your name is that beautiful...just how beautiful you are as a person. What a blessing for you to sing for Aunt Lily, to sing for God. Please know that you are a sweet and precious daughter of a King, and you bring glory to Him! You sing your heart out for Him. Zoie...I am sending you my hugs, love and sending my prayers up to Him!

ps. Tell your mom...I think she is an amazing mommy and give her a great big hug for me!

I love you!

Beverlydru said...

I know the first story rises out of your meditation on fearing God. I have often pondered on how dramatically it would change our services if Jesus made a physical appearance. I am certain he does inhabit the praises of His people, and He says,"where 2 or more are gathered...". So He shows up but we don't see Him with our physical eyes. So people miss Him. And miss what he wants to do. What if our expectation was to be with HIM?! It would change everything.
So I'm with you - we should prepare for our Saviour's visitation as we would for the President's but multiplied by 10!!

Second story - she preached. Awesome.
Enough said or I'll blow out the comment box. LOL

Edie said...

Well Pamela first I would like to say that if God has put it on Zoie's heart to sing at here aunt's funeral then He will enable her. God bless you Zoie.

On the matter of your first worship experience well, I can imagine it would be difficult to stay focused on the worship with the President of the US conspicuously present. I would not be pleased with those that likely showed up to see him and not to worship, but I will add that I would be very pleased that the President did worship the Living God, knowing that becasue of his position, he cannot help but draw attention to himself, then it would be only right to welcome him as any other person.

In the 2nd worship experience I say Amen to that lady who obviously loved the Lord.

Beverly said...

If we all put as much excitement into seeing our Lord as we do seeing a movie actor, a race car driver or in this case the President our lives might be way different than they are now. Someone who gave His life for us, none of those people have done anything like that for us. Why can't we show Him now how we feel until waiting until we get to heaven with Him.

I sang at my dad's funeral and God gave me such strength you can't imagine. What a great opportunity to share God's message than at a funeral. God will use Zoie and you have made the right decision in allowing her to share her heart at this special time.

Leebird said...

I've never really thought about this, but I guess Jesus had his own version of the Secret Service....the heavenly variety. But he chose to give them the day off on that fateful day when He was assassinated so we wouldn't be dead in our sins any longer.

Regarding the second story, I can remember growing up we had a man with mental retardation that sung in the church choir. He occasionally sang solos and, musically speaking sounded like a hound dog. But his simple childlike faith touched hearts every single time.

Now, about Zoie singing at her auntie's funeral...she will never forget the opportunity to express love to her aunt and the rest of the family that way. I think it's wonderful. I spoke at my brother's funeral...yes, I was 38 at the time...but I felt like a scared little girl up there. Tell Zoie to just take some deep breaths and imagine her aunt sitting beside Jesus in heaven smiling in pleasure and approval.

Kay Martin said...

I love stories and you wrote these so well I 'was there.'

Story one: Yes much pomp and ado over an elected president. Jesus comes in the homeless guy sitting on the steps of the church and the challenged adults: the vulnerable. That's what gets me. Few want to see HIm in such packages.

In my old church...the First ______ with the biggest steeple and oldest in the region was located where urban sprawl had surrounded it. The Sunday God spared our daughter from death with a brain tumor I arrived late to worship service. As I walked in; a down and out young man was sitting on the steps. I asked if he wanted to go in. He nodded. I told him to come on my arm. This day the folks knew that God had just supernaturally healed my for a day I had some clout.

During the first hymn...he didn't know how to use the hymnal....he asked if he could give his life to Jesus. I nodded and told him we had a bit more to do before that invitation would come. The minute the preacher opened for new members, etc. he pulled me with him down that aisle. My eyes were full of tears and I was so thrilled. But when I got down front only 1/3 of that congregation was pleased. Oh my! Pastor even asked me when we got in line for people to shake our hands if I had given him the Romans Road plan...I laughed and said " can do that. He came seeking Jesus; and looking at him, I'd say he found Him."

When I read your stories I felt that day all over again. Now, I'm not sure what percentage will ever receive the true Christ....didn't Jesus tell us in Scripture that the gate is narrow and only a few will come through it?

Great stories and as usual wonderful thought provoking activity with the cute pink shoe lady.

Singing will probably be such a blessing for everyone to express their love and devotion. Great tribute to a great lady.

My Army Brats and Me said...

Thank you for visiting and praying for me. I will follow this journey on the heels of our Lord.
Love Cindy

Kristen Myers said...

Pamela, I can't believe how much this corresponds with what I wrote today, except that you're focusing on church.

I often ask myself who I am going to church for each Sunday - the One I look up to or those I look out to. Unfortunately, many times I am more concerned with seeing other members (and they seeing me), rather than seeing the true purpose of worship - glorifying Jesus.

Thanks for the reminder. I'll be praying for Zoie and your family as you follow God's heart to the funeral.

Love ya girlfriend.

Elizabethd said...

We had a similar experience with the Bishop's visit to us earlier this year.

Leebird said...

I'm feeling your squeeze! Love you, Lee