Wow. What an amazing service we had this morning. We started the service with the elders gathering around an older member who had been in a wreck the night before. A woman in the other car had been killed, and this member was, understandably, dealing with extreme guilt and sadness. All the elders laid their hands on him and took turns praying for him and for the family of the woman who had been killed.
Then Jeff (our preacher) decided that we would take communion right then and there, since that is something we do all together. It's like we were sitting around the table weeping with a family member ... oh wait ... we were! John had planned for the praise team to sing a couple of songs during the cup, so I wondered if we were going to go ahead and do them. Amazingly (isn't that the way God works?), the songs spoke directly to this situation. The first was "Have Mercy On Me, O God," that John and I sang as a duet. The other was, "For All You've Done," whose lyrics begin, "O Cleanser of the mess I've made ..." The chorus is, "How wonderful Your mercy is. How awesome are Your ways. I come, I come to worship You for all You've done." How perfect was that to transition into the rest of the service?! There weren't very many dry eyes to be found.
The theme of the service was Cleansing, taken from Malachi 3. Who will be able to stand when God comes to clean up? We sang "Refiner's Fire" and many other purifying/cleansing type songs. Very powerful.
Of course, my silly little mind always wanders a bit. So for a while this morning, I thought about how we have several songs that talk about the refining fire and making us like gold, but not too many songs about how God is like soap, as Malachi states. I then thought of another possible verse for Refiner's Fire that goes, "Laun-der-rer's soap ... my heart's only hope ... is to be holy ..." etc. Just not quite as smooth. :)
The cleansing part also got me thinking about the healing part. In order to be purified, it seems like the process is awfully painful. God doesn't just leave us with gaping wounds; He also is there as the salve in the healing process.
I think we get stuck sometimes with gaping wounds and don't know what to do next. It's almost like we get used to our wounds and don't know who we are without them. Or maybe we're too scared to heal, knowing that if we were whole again, we would be expected to do more.
As I said in my last post, Johnathan learned that he could take his cast off. I thought this was great, in that we could take it off to take a bath and then put it back on when he dried off. So last night, we took it off and I put him in the tub. He started crying and held his wrist close to him and said it would hurt if he put it in the water. The he said he couldn't open his hand. Then he couldn't put soap on it, and a whole host of other things that he was just afraid to do!
(By the way, he gets his cast off Wednesday and has been using his hand/wrist almost as if he had no cast. It's already healed.)
He had gotten used to protecting it and used to saying, "I can't" because of it. But more importantly, I think, he had gotten used to the attention he had been getting. No reasoning or explanation that it was all better would change his mind. Of course, when we sang a song, and he forgot about the fact that he didn't have his cast on, he was totally fine! He could wiggle his fingers and turn his hand from palm-down to palm-up with no problem. But as soon as he would look at his wrist, he would start crying again, remembering that it was supposed to hurt!
Wow, if we aren't like that sometimes! It takes courage to use that wrist again after it's been broken. And it IS weak ... but healed. It takes courage to open our hearts and lives to people after our they've been broken in the past, too!
Father, help me allow You to wash away my iniquities and heal my gaping wounds so that I can be strong and serve You better.
You didn't think you'd get two sermons today, did you?!