An Awesome Church Service
Today's service was amazing. It's hard to describe it, but it was amazing. I was out for a few days this week, so I asked Rudy, my "right hand man" to preach this week, and he was awesome. He brought his research and knowledge to bring excellent background to the subject (we're on the Beatitudes, Jesus' "Blessed are" statements).
It's great having staff who will sometimes preach; it allowed me to take an extended prayer time before the services (I usually pray, but I also usually have stuff to prepare, so this morning's time was extended). Additionally, during the sermon in the second service (after I'd listened and taken notes during the first - here's a freebie: if you attend church, try taking notes during the sermon; it always helps me pay better attention and get more out of the speaker's words), I was able to spend some time praying for the people who were there.
Whatever the case, it was awesome. Sometimes there are altar calls at the end of a service - with varying degrees of "success." Sometimes we ask people to respond in an appropriate way by coming to the front of the church, maybe for special prayer, maybe for pardon from sins, maybe to make a public declaration of faith. There is usually a lot of fear at work during an altar call; mostly fear of what people are going to say or think about the one coming forward.
Today there wasn't an altar call.
Or maybe there was.
Let me put it this way: neither Rudy nor I offered an altar call. After Rudy finished preaching (on "Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth"), the band came up for a final song. During that song, God made an altar call, and soon the steps at the front of the sanctuary were filled with people. Some needed God's touch in a special way. Others came to pray for their friends and loved ones. Many tears were shed. Many hugs were shared. I was thinking about going up and asking the band to keep playing, but they did so without being prompted (by me, that is - there was quite a bit of prompting going on, but that was all Holy Spirit).
It was the best service I've been in since I've been in the United Methodist Church.