Sunday, August 28, 2011

Open Air Service (3)

This morning's open air servicein downtown Elmhurst was blessed with spectacular weather - clear blue skies, with pleasant warmth and a breeze. (It was hard to think to think of folk struggling with Hurricane Irene along the east coast). 1600 chairs were set out and they mostly seemed to fill up as the service began. Indeed, there seemed to be tens of people standing around the edges so there may well have been more there. But, as always, God is really interested in the deeper heart issues, beneath the surface. Not the numbers, nor the organizational efficiency, but whether we were worshippers "in spirit and in truth" (John 4: 23). Some things particularly struck me.

  • I met with the pastors of the seven churches at 9:15 for prayer. It was one of the most free, honest, humble, exciting times of prayer that I have participated in for a long time. For 25 minutes these pastors revealed not only their love for God, but for Elmhurst and (so importantly) for each other. It was palpable unity. The service was called "ONE worship" and they modeled it. I am sure these relationships expressed by such prayer give a vital foundation.

  • After the first of three songs, the sound system failed. Technicians rushed to correct the fault, the musicians looked bemused, as did the congregation which eventually sat down in the awkward silence. After four minutes or so the amplification returned and we began singing, only for it to fail again. We were left singing "How great Thou art." Yet, suddenly we could hear the unaccompanied voices of this great crowd sounding beautifully across the city center. Eventually the power came back on but, frankly, the technical hitch didn't seem to matter. Afterwards nobody commented on it to me. Isn't it great when we major on majors!

  • Communion was later served to this great crowd. All the pastors shared in leading. Each of us received a small sealed cup of juice with an extra sealed lid and a wafer inside. I had never seen such an inventive way of receiving communion. But, again, for all its novelty it proved a deep experience of connecting with the Lord as his united people. Us and Him.

I guess that all of us who were there will been struck by different issues. I would love to hear of your experiences too. I long for individuals to have been changed within this morning's worship and for the ministry of reconciliation (part of our service theme) to continue powerfully for this great group of churches.


DSS said...

Both my husband Bill and I were grateful to have been there yesterday morning! Truly. What stuck me most was how glad I was that the churches and their pastors had come together in their worship of our God. One pastor truly expressed that sentiment at the beginning of the service that we are united in Christ,in our love for and worship of him. Our lives are to be lived for him as you said too. These thoughts were inspirational and I hope and pray are lived out in all our lives, in our body.

Jackie said...

I was one of the ushers at this year's ONE worship service. I had been looking forward to the service all summer and I really enjoyed it. At my church I am on the worship team and I teach preschool children's church on Sundays, so this event was an opportunity for me step back from my responsibilities and simply be ministered to. Despite the technical difficulties that arose, I thought the worship was wonderful. Reflecting back on the sermon, what stood out for me was the point that love is stronger than fear. This has been an echoing theme in my life over the past twelve months. Last October I attended the Illinois Momentum Youth Convention where the theme was "Compelled by Love." In the same way, yesterday we united in Elmhurst to show that "Christ's Love Compels Us." I pray that the open air service touched lives and was a testimony of the power of God's sacrificial love for us and his desire for his people to be one body.