I went to a local church today to support and hear some friends joining a local church choir in presenting some songs from Tim Sharp and Wes Ramsay’s Bluegrass Mass. The words chosen for the music were incredible, biblical and as theologically sound as anything written by J.S. Bach. You can do your own research on that by searching for video of this “mass.”
Beyond the music which I expected to connect with I was in total surprise as I found out God had some things I needed to hear. I think it was during the children’s sermon when the explanation was given with amazing and simple eloquence as to why a child was being baptized and why a teenager was being confirmed. It was stirring and appealing in so many different ways. It was stated clearly that the parents of the teen had taken her baptism and their vows seriously years before which led them to this moment of her confirmation. As I heard the questions asked of this young lady about her faith I allowed myself to answer those questions for myself. As the associate pastor gave the meditation I was struck by his words on this Pentecost Sunday. He remembered his time at camp as a child and the man who made the fire sometimes even from sticks. He then described the next morning when another counselor would go to the burn pile now gray with ashes and apparently cold from the long night hours. He would take a stick and start digging to find hot coals and he would blow on them. Within a few minutes the fire would flare up again and soon breakfast would be cooking. The point is that the fire can burn again. It may look like cold ashes in the morning but dig deep enough and you will find the fire.
As I sat and listened to this young man’s words I realized that God had a message for me and that I needed to take it on and let Him apply it to me. I was sitting on a folding chair literally right down the aisle and even that allowed these words to flow unrestricted into my heart and soul.
For the last two and a half years I have fought the battle to rise above the condemnation and judgement of others. I have not doubted God because of moments like this in which He has repeatedly found me and called me to continue to let Him work in my soul. But I have struggled.
Today I heard Him and I listened. I heard a close friend this week that called to check on me and pushed on me to forgive myself. I will share one other moment from today’s service.
During the offering the words to one of my favorite songs found me. My all time favorite hymn is Pass Me Not oh Gentle Savior and this song would be close to that in sentiment. Mosie Lister wrote these words and they surely are my prayer most days:
In the darkness, as black as could be
And my heart felt alone
And I cried oh Lord
Don’t hide your face from meLike a king I may live in a palace so tall
With great riches to call my own
But I don’t know a thing
In this whole wide world
That’s worse then being alone
Hold my hand all the way
Every hour every day
From here to the great unknown
Take my hand
Let me stand where no one stands alone.
As I walked away today I thought of all of the people who have contacted me over the last two years and our stories that are all different and yet so much the same. Somewhere along the line we broke, we failed and we fell down in our spiritual walk. We have beaten ourselves with shame and the shunning of people we thought we were close to. We have repented over and over not because we didn’t find forgiveness through Christ but because the church too often doesn’t know what to do with broken people and so the wound lives on. I thought of you all today. I thought of us today.
Let the fire of God burn in you on this Pentecost Sunday. The people in the upper room when the church was formed were flawed and broken but because of the grace of God it was with them that God started the church. As I walked away today I was reminded of God’s love for me. I was encouraged to think that He might find something good in me and something that He might use for His honor and to help others. We are loved. God found me today when and where I least expected it. I am thankful.
(I’m going to publish the video of the song referenced above on my Facebook page since I can’t get it to load in this blog post.)