This weekend my church celebrated its 50th Anniversary. And while Southeast Christian Church is one of the top 10 largest churches in the U.S., the worship service was specifically intentional to focus on what God has done and what God WILL do and to give Him all glory and praise, not to self-placate itself with accolades. It was a very special service in that there was lots of music, lots of prayer, lots of worship, and sermons from every pastor who had ever preached there (Bob Russell, Dave Stone and Kyle Idleman). Several times during worship my eyes filled with joyful or repenting tears revealing the piercing of my heart in worship. Moving to say the least.
Senior pastor Dave Stone often comments when Scripture verses are read and the sound of Bibles being pulled out and pages turning fills the sanctuary. He says that it is a sound he loves to hear. I agree with him for several reasons.
One, it means that Scripture is being preached on. Unfortunately, even though I was raised “in the church” (not Southeast but elsewhere), I bore through many sermons that were not based on God’s Word. That is definitely not the case at my church now.
Two, it means that church attendees are actually bringing their Bibles with them to worship. And by diving into God’s Word they move from “attendee” to “participant” to “disciple” — exactly the path God calls us to be on.
But I digress….. Back to Dave Stone’s favorite sound of Bible pages turning.
So during this last service a different sound in the sanctuary came to be my favorite. And I possibly might not hear it again. You see, this 50th Anniversary worship service, celebration and praise to God was initially intended to occur at our local Papa John’s Louisville Cardinal Stadium. It is a football stadium that has the capacity to seat the entire Southeast congregation in one sitting — all three campuses. For logistics purposes, many things had to be considered and rearranged. One was communion. So these unique self-contained communion units were purchased (think “individualized coffee creamer with grape juice inside and wafer on top”).
As these special self-contained communion items were distributed and people began their prayer and repentance, the sanctuary was filled with the sound of people removing the cellophane wafer wrapper. I was in prayer after consuming my wafer and grape juice and it was revealed to me that it sounded like a gentle rain rather than cellophane removal. I basked in this new perspective, soaked up the acoustical expanse and let the imagery of rain in prayer wash over me like God’s forgiveness does when we submit in the Eucharist. It was incredibly metaphorical and powerful.
It truly was another facet to an already amazing worship service and I am so blessed to have participated.
On a different note, the service started out with a very hilarious video snippet — I highly recommend you click on the link and go watch it.
Where’s Bob – 50th Anniversary Pre-Show from Southeast Video on Vimeo.
…..Dan at aslowerpace dot net