Happy St. Patty’s Day, Dear Ones! I just realized that I sent both of my boys to school unawares. They’ll be pinching posts all day and will probably be scarred for life. Well, one of them will turn it into a social opportunity and the other will be scarred for life. Ugh. Live and learn, I always say. A little bit of scarring gives a person character, eh?
I pray that your Palm Sunday was a sweet experience. It is such a special day on the church calendar. When I was the Director of Children’s Ministries for my church, this was one of my favorite lessons to plan. It was the only time that Jesus was ever recognized by the masses as Lord and Savior! Oh, the joy! And then, of course, the sorrow of all that followed.
It always boggles my mind how we can be so fickle. I say “we” because I am one of those people. I often fail to see the forest for the trees and it terrifies me to think that I may have been one of those people waving the palms and crying, “Hosanna!” only to cry “Free Barabbas!” such a short time later. Oh, that I could say it could not be true. But I must face that awful truth that it was my sins that He died to atone for.
Our church had its Easter Cantata yesterday. We almost decided to attend a different church, but after praying about it all week (I am not kidding!); we decided the right thing to do would be to go to our home church.
You see, our church is still in a bit of conflict. And the music is at the center of it. Many of the choir members and older members who prefer a traditional service have vocalized their objection to the Contemporary service that my husband is involved in. As they like to say, it’s just not their “cup of tea”. There have been many hurtful things said and done, which, needless to say, have affected our feelings toward our traditional worship service. We are trying to forgive, and move on. So we decided to attend the Cantata yesterday.
Now, I love all kinds of music. And I love all kinds of worship styles. There have been times in the past when I was stirred to tears at the Cantata performance. But yesterday, I was worried that my heart was not in the right place, so I began to pray almost as soon as I sat down in the pew.
“Please, Lord, please! Just let me feel you in all of this.”
But I couldn’t find Him anywhere. I reached down deep. But I couldn’t feel Him. One of my best friends sang a solo, and it was beautiful. But I did not feel Him in the words. The choir gave a competent performance. The words to the music spoke the Easter story. I was contemplative, but I did not feel the Holy Spirit.
It was a terrible feeling.
As the last song was being sung, an elderly lady began to make her way out of the sanctuary. I know this precious woman well, and I knew that sitting through such a long performance was hard on her. Although this sweet woman is probably nearing 80 years old, she rarely misses one of our Contemporary Worship services. She rarely misses a traditional service either. This dear lady frequently tells me how much she appreciates the younger generation in our church. She exclaims over how much energy we have and how blessed our church is to have us. As I watched this sweet lady slowly make her way down the aisle, leaning heavily on her cane, I whispered to Teddy to go and open the door for her. I watched my son hold the door open for her, and that’s when I felt Him. A sob filled my throat and my eyes filled with tears. The Holy Spirit had announced His presence to me. I felt the Lord telling me that He was there in the room. That He had been there the whole time. I felt Him gently tell me that the way that I felt while watching the Cantata is the way that some of my church family members feel when attending Contemporary Worship.
I already knew this, of course, but this was the first time that I have ever felt the full force of this knowledge. I have always been able to sense God’s presence, no matter which worship service I was at. It opened my eyes to their discomfort. And I am ashamed that I have not been more compassionate.
I have to admit, I was like Peter pointing to John when Jesus spoke to him about the manner in which he would die. “Lord,” I asked, “What about them?”
He was so sweet, and His response was similar to the one Jesus gave Peter. “…what is that to you? You must follow me.” (John 21:22)
And I will. I will follow Him. Perhaps I will follow Him into things that aren’t my “cup of tea”. If so, I will take it with a teaspoon of sugar instead of lemon. But if He leads there, I will follow. For who am I to say what brings a person into a worshipful state? Indeed, who are they? For hasn’t He promised us that wherever two or more are gathered in His name, He will be there?
And as for the others?
Perhaps they will have coffee.