Monday, June 27, 2005

not your typical summer Sunday

Yesterday was a pretty remarkable Sunday. It began with two things going on at once, a Men's breakfast, where Tara, one of our pastors spoke and shared her spiritual journey, which is pretty compelling, and an early worship service. The 8:30 service reminds me of a description of Cub's games at Wrigley Field. When they begin very few people are in attendance, but after a few innings the numbers have increased, significantly. It is that way at the 8:30 service: by the time we have had the processional hymn and the greeting and the announcements, a few more have come in. We pray and conclude with the Lord's Prayer, and I open my eyes and look out and a few more are there. By the 4th or 5th inning it is a pretty good crowd. I am just grateful that anyone is here in the summer!

In both morning services Ray Buchanan, president of Stop Hunger Now preached. Their work is truly God's work, and he reflected on Mark 6, and the miracle of the feeding of the 5000. If we are going to feed the world, it will truly require a miracle.

During the Sunday School hour I led a group of about 80 adults in a discussion of major mission objectives for our church.

At 2:00 p.m., Providence hosted an interfaith gathering that was linked, via the internet, to a forum on peace in the middle east. There were Christians, Jews, Muslims, African-Americans, Palestinians present. We listened and talked for about two hours. We were together under the auspices of A Different Future. The purpose of the gathering was to give voice to the great majority of folks in the Holy Land who want peace, but are not often heard over the voices of the extremists on each end of the continuum. An article is posted in today's Charlotte Observer: link.

Later in the evening, two more gatherings: our monthly chapel service, which was full. My friend John from High Point preached, Gladys gave a very moving lay witness, an offering was received for our church's prison ministry, and we sang gospel songs like "Since Jesus Came Into My Heart". Simultaneously, our Vacation Bible School was getting started, children and their parents arrived, making a joyful noise. The two together filled me with gratitude for the past (the faith passed on to me) and the future (maybe God is going to give us another generation).

By the end of the day, I realized that I had experienced enough religion for one day.

I drove home, ate the leftover chicken salad and almost two slices of pizza, and looked at the newspaper for awhile. Who are going to be the Charlotte Bobcats draft choices? (My guess--Chris Paul and Sean May) Why is Shavlik Randolph entering the draft? (He wants to play basketball in Europe) Maybe we will be fighting the insurgents for the next twelve years, a military leader reports. Look for gas to be $3 a gallon in the near future. Then the travel section: it is incredibly humid in Charlotte now, and it would be nice to be hanging out in Blowing Rock. Then the Parade section: which celebrities have coupled and uncoupled? I can't keep them straight.

Then the day comes to an end. A remarkable Sunday, especially for the summer. I am grateful.


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