Sunday, November 01, 2009

Today Wasn't Just Another Sunday

Author: Susan L. Prince

I awakened this morning like I do each Sunday, although this day I was not working and looked forward to heading to Northbrook Church to gather with my church family and worship together. Northbrook has been my home church since 2001, so I have a large family!

There are many things going on personally in my head and heart that I can't share here, but I will share some things today because my experience at church was so profound. It is difficult sometimes to share this stuff because what is so deep and meaningful to me may sound trivial and "stupid" to the reader, but it is a risk I am going to take. This blog is meant to glorify God and today He really did surprise me with some things and I just need to document it in some way.

When I walked in the door at Northbrook this morning I was greeted by name with smiles and hugs from my brothers and sisters in Christ. It was such a warm feeling of love in the air. :) It just seems sweeter now that I live alone to have people genuinely happy to see me.

I chatted some and then headed in to take my seat, third row in the section on the right side, second chair in from the aisle on the left. I noticed a couple behind me that I had not met so I introduced myself and met Gina and Raymond. I said "hello" to a few other family members and watched as other Northbrookers made their way over to greet Gina and Raymond. It made me remember my first visit to Northbrook and how I immediately felt loved. I hope Gina and Raymond experienced some of that today.

I took my seat again and observed that the elements were reverently on display at the front. Honestly, I have not partaken in the sharing the Lord's Supper the past few times the opportunity presented itself. I chose not to partake on those occasions because my heart just wasn't "right". The Lord's Supper is something I revere and take very seriously. There are times I literally shake when I hold the elements and consider what Jesus Christ did for me on that cross and think about how much love it took to stay on that cross, suffering and dying. I think hold me Jesus, I'm shaking like a leaf.

When I saw that my Northbrook family would be sharing in the Lord's Supper today, before the service started I sat and reflected at my seat. I was thinking that my heart is there, it is ready, and it is His. I thought, today I will be able to partake.

The service started with a single voice singing strains of a hymn and then we heard scripture read by many different people and children. All these scriptures shared the truth about God's love and how much He does love us. It was impactful to me because I had already been led to ponder all that.

As the praise and worship music started by the band on stage, the wife of one of the band members came up next to me and asked if she and her family could sit in the row of seats next to me. Of course! So, I quickly moved my stuff from the seat that was to my right, but realized that wasn't quite enough room and then I had to leave "my" seat and move to the seat on the end.

This doesn't seem like a big deal, but to me it was. It was a very big deal. That end seat was "Katie's". That was my friend Katie's seat. I sat next to her for eight years as she worshiped. So, it felt weird. It felt so different to sit there, in "Katie's seat". I was somewhat befuddled.

When the band finished, the woman's husband came and sat next to his wife, which was next to me, in "my" seat.

Suddenly a wave of emotion overcame me because it was now "official"; the era has come to an end. My entire framily is gone and Katie wasn't there and life is marching on. I've even been "kicked out" of my seat. It was symbolic. It really got to me. I think it is finally sinking in how different my life is now. I know the both of us are in God's will, and that is all good, but my heart has finally accepted that I am enduring a major life adjustment. In a way it really surprised how it all started to hit me. My life as I knew it is over. God is moving me onto new things. God is moving Katie onto new things.

Chuck, my pastor, then stood before us to present the elements, that which represents Christ's body and blood. My eyes were already welling up and as Chuck began to share a word with us, he got choked up. He couldn't speak because he was overcome with emotion. I have seen this in him before when we partake in the Lord's Supper. It is a very meaningful time and it seemed extra special today for some reason; at least it was for me.

When Chuck finally spoke he said "Have you ever just been so overcome with the realization that you are loved?" He continued on to share that he feels that way when we share in communion, when he thinks about his family, when he thinks about the church, when he thinks about his wife, etc. It was impactful to me because I was really feeling the love today. As soon as I entered the Gathering Place, brothers greeted me, I found sisters to get hugs from and talk with, listened to people share about how much God loves me and then I was about to do something that Christ commanded us to do in order to remember His sacrifice, which was totally done out of absolute, never-ending, pure love for me.

It was powerful. God reminded me that Christ took on the form of a man for me. He is the Almighty, yet He did not consider equality with God something to be grasped. Can you imagine confining yourself to live in a feeble body covered with skin, when you are an omnipotent, eternal being? As a man he endured the hardships of life we all deal with, and much more. He lived a perfect life and then died a death like any common criminal of that day. The people who cheered Him waving palm branches as He entered the city at the beginning of the week were sorely disappointed by him by the end of the week and even spat on him and cursed Him. Then He laid down His life. Yes, man crucified Him, but that would not have happened without his permission. He literally laid his life down! He did that for me. For YOU! Bloggles the mind!

That is true love. Agape love. He died for the very people that spit on Him, curse His name, and nailed Him to a tree. He died for me. Me.

So, I sat reflecting on that as well as the framily that I was so desperately missing, knowing that I have loved deeply and knowing that I am loved deeply. It was so very humbling.

Chuck asked anyone willing to serve to come up and pass out the elements and so I took of the bread and I took the cup. We waited to eat together and then to share of the drink. As I crushed the bread between my teeth, I envisioned the body of my Savior, broken and dying as He hung on a cross, and as I drank of the cup I understand that He poured his blood out as a sacrifice for my sin.

After sharing the Lord's Supper Chuck delivered an inspired message on the scripture about Jesus washing the disciple's feet. I want to share more about that in another post, but one thing that stuck with me is something Chuck said about foot washing, he said "it is humbling on both sides of the water."

It was an emotional day for me as I remember life and what it was like these past ten years, and how it is now and that I can trust God for a future rich with opportunities to serve Him.

No comments:

Post a Comment