Sunday, February 10, 2008

The Lord's Table

I attended the Leadership Forum yesterday. (It's an annual Salem Alliance thing where the leaders in the church (that is, key volunteers and staff) get together to worship and hear updates on the last year in different ministries, both locally and globally.) All new staff get introduced... so there I was with 8 other staff members, and 1 "by satellite" (which was actually a taped interview, but it was pulled off like she connected via satellite - hilarious). There were some funnies that came out of my interview, but that isn't the point of my writing today, so maybe I'll save that for another time. Or maybe I won't.

While the group was only about 300 or so, maybe more, the worship and fellowship was indescribable. (Tangent: This is a church with more than 2500 adults that attend on an given weekend. The fact that only 300 people are serving is just really sad, and personally, I think that those that call SAC their home should be convicted for not serving their God who has so graciously given to them. More about that another time.) Laura and Logan led us in some amazing worship time. The entire PMT updated us on their areas of ministry and some beautiful stories of healing and salvation that have happened over the last year.

We heard an update on the Broadway project. The Governing Board, the day they made their final vote on whether or not to move ahead, voted unanimously, with one heart in only a way that the Holy Spirit could lead. They stood in agreement together in a circle.... and apparently was very moving. What's so cool about this is that I am certain that this project is going to touch lives. God is moving, people. Hearts will be changed for Jesus. There will be a place for ministries to happen, where the answer will be "Yes! We have a space for you to meet" rather than that "No, I'm sorry, we're all out of space" that so many are accustomed to hearing. Truly, I say to you, God is moving. Praise the Lord!
There were a few volunteers who were asked to come to the front to talk about why they serve, and continue to serve. Their stories were amazing - their hearts are so tender for the Lord.

Towards the end, we worshipped, and were called to communion. All the new staff had been asked to serve, so we filed towards the front and took our glass and our plate, and stood in our designated spot. I held the cup. For a moment as the music began, the vantage point of standing at the front of the congregation and looking out over this field of soldiers as they bowed their heads and prepared their hearts to receive the Lord's supper, I thought, "Wow..." But as people began to file forward to partake of the body and blood of Jesus, I cannot even begin to describe the flood of emotions that overtook me. It was truly a sacred moment. I've never served communion before. To see God's people coming humbly and prayerfully to receive this incredible gift is like nothing I've experienced before. One by one they came. One by one they bowed their heads and took the bread and dipped it in the cup. One by one they ate. One by one they worshipped. Many said a prayer just before eating. Many just said, "Thank you, Jesus." What else can you say?

I was was blessed to serve.

The Governing Board gathered around the PMT and laid hands on them to pray, as they knelt before the throne of God. All staff come to the front where the PMT and Governing Board laid hands on us and prayed. And then we all stood along the perimeter of the room and prayed for our leaders; our volunteers, God's devoted followers who, in an act of worship and obedience, serve joyfully and gratefully. So cool.

A woman (my Bible Study 'encourager') came to me after we were all dismissed to give me a hug. She said many kind words, most of which I prefer to just keep to myself, but she told me a story that is so telling of how God works. She said that around Christmas time, she was feeling very sad and alone. Family wasn't right... her extended family doesn't know the Lord and other circumstances in her life just had her carrying a heavy burden. She came to the Christmas Eve service and sat towards the back. Feeling depleated, she prayed and asked God to reveal Himself to her and to lift her spirit so that she could rejoice in the season. She said that she lifted her head, and just one or two rows down she saw a family - a mother, a father and a little baby. She said they looked so happy and that Jesus just emanated from them. She said that family was mine, and that I just radiated "mother". In that moment, she felt the presence of God.

You just never know who is watching or how God is going to use circumstances to speak to someone else. I was so touched. So few times do I get the chance to share my faith, or to talk about my life when I know that the other person is getting some benefit. Only once in the last year have I had that opportunity (that I know of), and apparently.... well... let's just say that it wasn't received in the heart that was given. But to know that God DOES use me... It's very confirming. So, I thank you, Jesus, for giving me that insight yesterday.