We worshipped this morning in a gym with an odd assortment of chairs, a sound system prone to feedback, and a tentative plan of where we wanted worship to go. Close to three hundred people gathered ready to pray, sing, and share their hearts. Hope in the midst of brokenness. It hadn't even been a full week since a fire destroyed the sanctuary at Taylor Chapel UMC, one of our neighbor churches here in Fort Wayne. A week of heavy clean up and assessment. Of salvaging and repair. Only yesterday, over 700 people passed through that family life center as a part of their Upward Basketball program. And only hours later, the altar was set, the sound system and screen in place, and the chairs laid out.
Most amazing to watch, has been the outpouring of support and encouragement from the community and other area churches. The altar came from one church, childcare from another, coffee from the Bob Evans right next door.
I had the humbling honor of leading worship...of walking alongside this community of believers on a morning where it was important to grieve, to remember, and to sing of hope. I stepped up to the microphone after a few acapella hymns led by a member, a photo montage of memories coupled with the current state of the sanctuary, and prayers spoken by representatives from area churches. I claimed the morning as a "holy and set apart" time and invited the members to stand, sit, sing, pray, and cry... these beautiful, courageous people were ready.
The next two hours (rare for the average united methodist congregation :o)), we sang, prayed, reflected, read scriptures, shared thoughts, and took communion. My heart resonated with the authenticity and transparency shown about the room. I love when the movement of the Spirit is felt strongly...I lost track of how many times the feeling of goosebumps ran through me.
Powerful. Humbling. God's love never fails, never gives up, never runs out. A holy and set apart time.