I slipped into the amphitheater-style sanctuary from a side door and a few heads turned 'round to see who I was. Nobody recognized me. I sat in the back row with some foreigners from India. Their children kept me entertained, bouncing around on the cushioned pews.
Being late, then, I missed the first song. The second song was All Because Of Jesus by Casting Crowns. Then the pastor got up and greeted us and told us the reason for the prayer meeting. It seems that a missionary family was supposed to speak at a Sunday service a few weeks ago but the facility had a water main break and the service was cancelled. The missionaries told the pastor, "Don't sweat it, this sort of thing happens to us all the time." But the pastor was determined to not let Satan have the upper hand. So, we were to pray for the missionaries during our time together last night. No money was collected however which, I would think, the family would really be after.
Then the music resumed with a favorite of mine, "Come Thou Fount", but a cantor was babbling gibberish throughout the song, kinda spoiling it. He was good at other times with different songs, but not with this classic hymn. The next song was "From the Inside Out" and then "Came to my Rescue," both by Hillsong.
Then another pastor stood up and asked us to be seated. I already was. We were to bow our heads and close our eyes and listen to some Scripture, Acts 1:8 and Mk. 4:35. This isn't an "Open your Bibles and turn to ..." kind of service. Having head bowed and eyes closed eliminates the temptation to follow along in the book.
There was another set of missionaries to pray for, this time in Mexico. If I remember right, they are building guest accommodations so that when teams go down there on mission trips, they have some place to stay. It made me think of Haiti and all the relief workers there needing places to stay too. And then, speaking of Haiti, we also prayed for a group from CAMA Services, the relief arm of the C&MA denomination, who'll be going to Haiti soon.
Back to singing, then, with a song I really like the chorus of: "Revelation Song". I remember that was sung at the church plant preview service, equally well. I think the cantor read aloud Matthew 16:28 -
"I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom."And hearing that verse sidetracked me because the Precepts lesson this week is about the kind of death Adam and Eve experienced, either just spiritual death (as some Christians supposedly teach) or both physical and spiritual death. I wondered why just physical death wasn't a choice because that's what I think Genesis 3 is on about.
The music resumed with another Hillsong song, Hosanna". Maybe this was Hillsong in concert, would I even know?! Then the pastor came up again and pointed out some latticework fencing on either side of the platform. Congregants were invited to treat it as the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem and place folded paper with their prayers into a spot in the fence. I didn't but many did. People were also invited to come forward and kneel at the front of the platform and the prayer team would pray with them if they wanted. I probably could have knelt in place without too much scrutiny but I didn't out of concern that the young family next to me might want to exit. The first hour of the service went by just so quickly. And Pastor Boyd paraphrased Deut. 4 for us and Mk. 2 when the paralytic's friends raised the roof to get him to Jesus. Boyd kinda said that if we have physical ailments, we ought to first recognize and confess our sins.
Back to the music, again, with "In Christ Alone", and then "How Great is our God" and the cantor just kept saying, "Sing with me!"
There was very little time for Josh to come up for his part about receiving physical healing. I think the guy had five minutes but he took fifteen which was still pretty quick. He talked about the great miracle of raising Lazarus and that Jesus' resurrection was also a great miracle of the Father. He read from Ps. 6:2 - "Have mercy on me ... for I am weak" (NKJV) and he quoted a contemporary song, "You hold my every moment; you calm my raging seas."
He said he had oils up front there and I got to thinking about those retreats so long ago, well maybe five years ago, when we had holy anointing. And how good it was. And how the team could cover a roomful in a matter of minutes and still spend quality time with each one. These guys weren't as efficient; they don't scale.
The last song was "Hallelujah, Our God Reigns" and it turned into such a cacophony, I thought of what St. Paul said about ordered worship. It was getting a little out of control.
Anyway, I spent my time there praying for my sister-in-law. That was my purpose in going.
The pastor announced a repeat of last year's Ash Wednesday service in a week and a half because everyone liked it so well.
The snow hadn't started yet when I left. My side seat got me into the parking lot pretty quick but I was prudent enough to hold the door for another couple and let them go out first. Plainsboro on a Friday night, *shudder*. I listened to Tell Me More on NPR and Michel Martin had on Ted Haggert's wife. Gayle lost some credibility with me when she said that her husband preached compassion towards homosexuals so the treatment they received from the church shocked them. Yes, the treatment was shocking but you make your bed and you sleep in it. Well, figuratively-speaking, of course. Maybe that's too much nuance.
As I turned 'round the jughandle to pick up the Hightstown bypass from CR-571, I saw a huge snow plow with its parking lights on, just sitting in an empty lot waiting for the snow to start. He had probably been there since 5pm just waiting. It had started before I got home but maybe it's just that I drove into it.
I have a sore throat this morning.