Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Any Given Sunday

This week I attended the best church service I ever remember.  It wasn't a “Revival”, a “Retreat”, or a “Conference”.  It was any given Sunday at First United Methodist Church.  Every year the church has a service led by our children.  This is the time of year that we have confirmation, and baptisms for the youth.  In this service we had a second grader play “Praise God from whom all blessings flow” on the piano.  Two sisters (in 6th and 7th grade) led our offering worship song; one on piano and the other in vocals.  We had lectors come to read the Sacred Scriptures who were elementary age.  Next our Pastor took seven children through the sacramental waters of baptism as they professed faith in Christ and were united with His Church.  These children were surrounded by brothers and sisters, parents, grandparents and friends, all promising to help them in their journey of faith.  Next came twenty children who were making a public confirmation of faith before the congregation. They were each anointed with oil and the pastor prayed that they be sealed by the Holy Spirit.  Each one came to the altar and knelt during this process; no longer just the faith of their parents but personal faith!  Finally our pastor explained that each child had made a “Stole” (a long, scarf-like vestment worn as a symbol of the clerical office) they would be wearing as they would be over serving the congregation Holy Communion.  He reminded us that every Christian is called to minister in some way and each child had a special call placed on them by God to act as ministers for His kingdom. Each child held either the bread or the cup as the church members came forward and the children declared: “The blood of Christ shed for you; the body of Christ broken for you”. As if all of this wasn't enough to get me all the way through a box of tissue, along came the second service.  The second service is “Contemporary” and has a large group of college students from WTAMU.  On occasion my family attends both early and late services because we enjoy seeing the passion and excitement the college brings in.  This Sunday it was at its height!  Five young adults who had never before been baptized were immersed while four others made public confirmations.  At a baptism the pastor always invites the family of the individuals up to get a close look and be able to join in with the “laying on of hands” and prayers as each one comes up out of the water.  As our pastor asked this one of the college students shouted out, “I guess that means all of us”!  The students then swarmed the baptistery to support each person being immersed.  Each time our pastor put one student into the water and declared, “In the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit” the other 40-50 students would begin to whoop-holler-and rejoice!  I stood watching, amazed at the unity and love these kids have for each other.  Immediately this verse from the book of Acts came to mind: Acts 2:38  Then Peter said to them, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call." . (47). And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.
At times I feel very discouraged at the state of our nation and world at large.  I worry about my children and all the evil they are exposed to on a daily basis but then I can attend our worship service and know that my kids are going to be okay.  We still have a community that is united in Christ and is far more influential in the life of my family than anything this world has to offer! Each week I leave saying the same thing: “that’s the best service I have been to” and  I hear my five year old singing in the backseat of our car on the way home, “I have decided to follow Jesus, no turning back, no turning back.”  It’s just any given Sunday at FUMC!