What a surprise this occasion proved to be. Though under pressure (!), I had worked hard to prepare a sermon on Heb. 10: 19-25 emphasizing how faith requires relationships - Jesus and me, Jesus with us, Jesus with us for the world. We need to draw near to Jesus Christ with a sincere heart and full assurance of faith ( v 22); to stay close together (Let us not give up meeting together as some are in the habit of doing verse25) spurring one another on toward love; to encourage one another in doing good deeds (verse 24) for the sake of the needy world. OK - fairly predictable stuff!
As always, I had internalized the message to be free to speak without notes. I expected with a black pastor the service would be longer than usual and more enthusiastic! But nothing prepared me for the explosive joy which rocked the congregation from the opening moments. Adron has only been there a few months. I think he said there were around 80 regulars when he arrived. On Sunday there were nearer 300. With some white faces but mostly black, congregational participation was extraordinary. Starting at 10.45 the worship rocked on until well past 12.00 o'clock. I stood up about 12:15! Adron invited me to preach for at least 40 minutes. To my amazement I found I did, and the actual message was shaped by the congregation's interaction with me. Actually, what I said bore little resemblance to my prepared draft though it used all my preparation work! Afterwards as the church met for celebration lunch Adron told me that the whole service was exceptionally free and worshipful - he had never witnessed it at the church before.
I know I have been blogging about dialog preaching involving others....but this whole act of worship seemed to involve everyone from start to finish to an extraordinary degree. I guess the service took 2 and a half hours, but people were staying right through for another service at 3:00pm. I wonder what lessons white congregations could learn?