While on vacation yesterday Jane and I decided to hop over to Findlay, OH and attend a worship gathering where a friend of mine pastors. He's the guy I bought a boatload of musical equipment from several years ago. I'm always leery of attending other people's services, and it seems it's been awhile since I've attended one that was actually a good experience - maybe since the last time I was at Willowcreek - but yesterday was really good. And I even got good reports about our own church when I returned home too, so it was good all over.
Things didn't start so well while visiting this church service. We arrived about 10 minutes early, went in, found a seat at a table, got some coffee, then sat and read through the bulletin... and not ONE SINGLE PERSON spoke to us. That seemed odd, but not necessarily surprising. Finally a young couple came and asked if they could sit at our table, and that was the only interaction we had with anyone until we talked with some people after the service.
But once the service started... it was nice. The pastor of the church wasn't preaching this day - he was leading worship - but the guy giving the message was someone we knew from when we used to live here, and I always liked his preaching. The worship service itself was so Christ-centered, and the music was so... just sooooo cool. The pastor didn't actually "lead" the singing, but he led the service. He played electric guitar in the band... and it was just the kind of sound I have always wished for in our band. Subtle little riffs and runs, and a lead solo at just the right time, and with just the right touch. In my opinion it was a superbly organized service - mellow, meaningful, and it flowed ever so smoothly. The song selection was good - and almost all songs I knew. They even did "Lord I Lift Your Name on High"... but they did this long, slow rendition of it, and it was good. And when they did this old Keith Green song... that's when it hit me that this would be a holy-moment morning. It was also kinda cool to see the son of another friend of mine - who, the last I knew was a chubby little kid, but is now a first-year seminary student - leading the singing and playing guitar. Then the visiting speaker gave a superb message on Psalm 139. It was an almost-perfect morning of worship for me.
As I said, this so rarely happens. And, not only that, but this was a church I think I could actually be a part of too (you know... attend). In fact, it's one of the few existing churches that I would possibly consider joining their staff. Not that I am going to pursue it or anything like that; and not that it's likely that it would ever be an option... but I don't know of too many other churches (if any) that I've ever thought that about. So... it was good. When the service was over we chatted with a few people we kinda knew, then we headed for home.
It was almost as good when we got home. Daughter Carrie told us about the worship gathering here, and it sounded like we missed a good one. Apparently the time of sharing went really well; and the guest speaker was really good. And then I got on facebook and read from several different people how the service effected them... and I was really happy. I always worry about how things will go in my absence, and sometimes I think they actually go much better - like yesterday.
Of course then I started worrying about certain people and wondering if they were there or not, and... you know. But anyway, it was a nice day.
Today I start back after a week off, and I don't really feel too bad. I am often really stressed, or really dread going back, or am anxious... but I feel ok. I'm kind of relaxed even.