Monday, December 17, 2007

A Dead Battery but a Congregation Full of Life

This is another "I love my church" post...

A little background information on the church I am a part of: we are a regional campus of a church which simply means that we are a part of that church but meet in a different location. We have a live worship team but the sermon is from the pastor of the main campus and it is a video. We are a young group and have been meeting for about a year and a half at a school. Meeting at a school means that we must set up a church every Sunday morning. All of it- chairs, sound system, nursery and children's rooms, etc. A faithful group meets early every Sunday morning to set it all up and then pretty much the whole congregation helps to take it all down after the service. It has been done that way for each Sunday for the last year and a half. Everything we have is transported to the school in a large box truck.

So begins Sunday's adventure...
My husband is the worship pastor of the campus. As we were on our way to church early Sunday morning, he gets a call from the campus pastor saying that the truck's batteries are completely dead. This was at the time the truck should have arrived at the school so that the setup could begin and all would be ready for a proper sound check and in plenty of time for everything to be worked out. The truck not starting means that everything we need to set up for a service will possibly be stuck in a storage spot 30 minutes from the school.

Of course there are back up plans. First, the main campus got to work in finding us new batteries. That didn't work though so they continued to jump the dead batteries, bringing in a larger vehicle to jump it. So, my husband gathered the main campus' portable sound system and we headed out to the school while the campus pastor began to prepare a sermon in record time. We were still hoping that the batteries would charge but were planning for alternatives, just in case.

This could have been very stressful but that was not the atmosphere we arrived to when we reached the campus. There was a group that had already been there for almost an hour, waiting to set up. But there was no grumbling, no complaining, just a group of people ready to do whatever needed to be done. We set up what was there and the praise team warmed up with just the guitar. My husband and the campus pastor spoke and decided if they did not get word in the next 10 minutes that the truck was started then they would go to plan B. This meant that they would use a very basic sound setup with a portable system, my husband and his guitar and with the pastor preaching his recently penned sermon. As for the kids, well, God bless the teachers! Soon after that though, they got a phone call that the truck had started and they were making the drive that would still take about 30 minutes.

At 10:25 the truck pulled into the parking lot. Our service begins at 11:00! What happened when the truck arrived was pretty incredible. Everyone who was there immediately went into action unloading and setting up. People who usually serve in other areas were pulling carts, setting up the children's rooms, unloading cables and doing whatever needed to be done. One gentleman, who normally vacuums, had already been on his hands and knees to clean the carpet so that we wouldn't have to wait for the rooms to be vacuumed. I never heard someone say "would you please help us." There wasn't a need because everyone participated willingly. It was down to the wire but at 11:00, we were ready to begin! It was unbelievable.

But then again, it was not unbelievable if you know our congregation. I told my husband as we were driving out to the church, not knowing what would happen, that in this kind of event I was so glad to be a part of our congregation because I knew whatever happened would be fine. We have such a great group who are always willing to sacrifice and would not complain about not having a perfect setting. As everyone was rushing around setting up, the children's ministry coordinator and I agreed that we were watching the Church in action, as they are supposed to be. I am so grateful to be able to be a part of a church where the congregation has such amazing attitudes. As we were waiting to see what happened with the truck, I prayed that in whatever happened God would be glorified in it. I have no doubt that he was. Only he could have allowed us to set up in 30 minutes and for the truck to start when it did. Only he could give a group of people the kind of attitudes that would be so willing to serve and work and do whatever it takes, all with cheerfulness. I believe that the attitude of the group brought him honor and the service was one of worship.

What a great morning!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Treasuring and Pondering

Again, our Bible study with the youth has led to another blog.

Tonight, as part of our study of the Christmas story, we read of the responses of the shepherds, Simeon, Anna and the wisemen as they worshiped Christ. They all recognized the magnitude of His birth and the fulfillment of God's promise. We read multiple passages and looked up the context in the prophecies in the Old Testament but there were two brief sentences in those passages that struck my husband and me.

Luke 2:19- "But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart" and Luke 2:33- "And His father and mother were amazed at the things which were being said about Him." The first verse is included right after the shepherd's visit Jesus, on the night of his birth. The second verse is Joseph and Mary's response while at the Temple where they were presenting Jesus as a baby and Simeon had just proclaimed His as Christ.

What struck us was that even amidst the miraculous surrounding events of his birth, Jesus was still the first son of a young couple. What must Mary have been thinking the night he was born? Beyond the fact that a bunch of men had just come to visit after a huge group of angels had sent them because her baby happened to be the Messiah...she was a young mother who was holding her little boy for the first time. And their first time to take Jesus out in public they were probably just like all proud parents but instead of hearing how cute their little boy was, they were told about how he was to bring salvation to the world.

I can't imagine the emotions that Mary and Joseph felt. In a few months I will be holding my newborn son. My son will not be the promised Messiah, I won't be visited by smelly shepherds or royalty that studied stars and his birth will not be the fulfillment of thousands of years of prophecy and waiting. But he will be our son, given to us by God. After all of the events of his birth, the visitors, the emotions...I know that I too will treasure all of those things and ponder them in my heart.