Well, this is the Sunday after Easter and we usually expect the attendance to be low, but in spite of the cold temperatures and the pouring rain, The Gathering’s attendance was amazing today.
I’m also amazed at how responsive both services are. Traditionally the 8:30 service is a little more subdued because they are not awake yet. And the second service is a little more active. It was almost the opposite today. It’s as though people are coming anticipating. Hey, that’s a good word. Let’s talk about it.
One of the things that is true of all great churches is that, as they gather, they gather with anticipation, an expectation, a buzz. I totally disagree with those people who believe that we ought to come into church and sit silently in our seats. I understand what they mean, that is, being focused, centered, be in the moment, and be prepared. And I think there is value to that.
But I also think there is more value to coming into a place that’s exciting with anticipation. We’re beginning to see that develop here at The Gathering in both services: anticipation; anticipation during set-up, during the services, between, and afterwards. It’s exciting.
The other thing I noticed today at The Gathering was the music was exceptional. Brittini Black and Sandra Lee led music today and did an exceptional job. I particularly enjoyed their rendition of the old hymn, “How Great Thou Art.” It didn’t sound anything like it did when I was growing up, but it still moved me. Thanks, ladies, for a great weekend.
I was also overwhelmed at how great people were in receiving the message this weekend, “Savoring the Sacred Now.” I have to say it’s probably my favorite chapter of the book. It’s one of my favorite subjects because we all easily get there. We lose the joy of the moment waiting for another place and time to really live.
I talked about why we trade our joys for jobs, our humanity for hurry, our souls for security, and our relationships for responsibilities – how we lose our sense of wonder. When did we lose our silliness, our ability to be in the moment, to laugh? Why are we so serious? Why is image so important? Why can’t we just love life and love each other as we are?
The two things I talked about this weekend that I do every week, I encourage you to find your own, is to get up every single day and submit to the devastating love of Jesus. I’m talking about the kind of love that changes everything; the kind of love that says I am loved as I am, not as I ought to be, where I am; the kind of love that says God will never forsake me, never leave me, never run away from me. What a great joy!
I also talked about the importance of not only submitting to the devastating love of Jesus, but surrendering to God’ divine providence, knowing that I am exactly where I am, going through what I have, on the way to where God wants me to go.
Savoring comes from a word which means to taste. So here’s what we talked about at The Gathering this weekend: savor, taste, enjoy, sample this moment. It is the only one you have. Be glad in all the circumstances you’re facing – good or bad – that God is at work. Live an 8:28 lifestyle. You know what 8:28 means, don’t you? “For we know that God is at work in all things for our good.”
What am I learning at The Gathering? It’s exciting to start over. It’s exciting to be in the Franklin/Brentwood area. It’s exciting to see new faces. It’s exciting to see things develop. And I’m so surprised that I’m not in as much of a hurry as I used to be. I’m taking every day, enjoying it, learning to enjoy the people around me, just staying in the moment. How about you?
See you next weekend at The Gathering.