So today was a bit of an emotional roller-coaster of a day!
First off, Wendy and I have been scrambling all week to get ready to go on a week-long vacation to celebrate our 25th Anniversary together. We haven’t taken a vacation as just a couple since our honeymoon, so we’re looking forward to our trip, and we’re preparing everything for others to run the worship service next week without us -- please do come join the rest of the FCC family for that, if you can, since we’ll be hosting Linnea Ek from our Galesburg sister church next Sunday, and we want to encourage and support her as much as we can.
Second, we did things a little differently in our service this week. Rather than have me preach (and let’s be honest -- getting a break from listening to me drone on is a blessing in and of itself), we actually spent that time focused on worship through action. Throughout the Bible, God told His people to do certain things (circumcision, burnt offerings, etc., in the Old Testament; reaching to people with Gospel, baptizing one another, etc., in the New Testament) -- but those outward actions were always based on what their inward situations were. Circumcision was to be first a circumcision of the heart, baptism is to be an outward expression of an inward relationship with the Lord, etc. I mean, both the Greatest Commandment(s) and the Great Commission are all about getting your heart right vertically with the Lord, and then doing something horizontally with that.
So we spent some time in prayer, letting God speak to our hearts about what He wants us to do in general in our lives and in particular in our relationships within the Body. Then we broke up and took Communion together, with people coming up and getting the bread and the cups with one another, then sitting back down to pray and to talk with one another about how we can minister to and serve one another better -- basically, “foot-washing” without the basins. It was a crucially important time to remind ourselves that being a community means more than just sitting near one another in pews and singing the same songs -- it means that we need to actively, consciously love one another by seeking out one another’s needs and then working to help meet those needs. That’s messy, and that’s personal, and that’s poignant, and that’s gonna hit people on an emotional level. For some, that’s off-putting. For others, that’s life-changing.
Speaking of life-changing, we also offered the opportunity to get baptized as part of our Church Cook-Out after the service. Nicholas and Caroline Kellerstrass told us this Wednesday that they’d like to be baptized, but I told a story from my college days about how God finally convinced me to get baptized by breaking a bridge... and God opened the door for three more unexpected people to step forward during the process and ask if they, too, could be baptized. So I had the privilege of baptizing Amy Kellerstrass, Erika Agans, and Molly Kuehn as well today.
Put all of that together, add some extremely yummy food, and some unexpected friends dropping in for the Cook-Out, and you end up with a really, really nice day...