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Christ at the Center

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Where Have You Seen God’s Glory?                                                                                                April 2018

I got an old church choir singing in my soul . . . sweet salvation and it’s beautiful . . .                          

 
I was honored and privileged to worship with the folks at Meier Settlement United Methodist Church this past Sunday. On the way to church, I was listening to a sermon podcast, when the pastor asked, “Where have you seen God’s glory today?”   I had to admit to myself that I hadn’t really seen God’s glory, because I wasn’t looking for it.   My head was in the work I was about to do with a small congregation. I was worried about how they would receive the news I had to share. Distracted by my thoughts, I turned onto a county road, only to have to slam on my breaks. Right in front of me were six peacocks. Thinking I might hit one, I honked… which caused one of the peacocks to open up its beautiful tail feathers.   “Where have you seen God’s glory today?” BAM! Right there it is!   I decide I would consciously walk through the day looking for God’s glory.   What a difference it made in how I worshipped.

The congregation of Meier Settlement were the epitome of why I love my current ministry role. Every week 30-35 (depending on whether folks have their grandkids) come to worship in a small white framed church in the middle of open air country, situated where two roads intersect…one gravel… one paved.   A church that has had its struggles, but has sought to live in Christ. This congregation is being the church to the communities around them and a witness to the power of the Holy Spirit.

Paneled walls, red carpet, lighted cross hung above the altar, beautiful homemade paraments, and the “old church” smell swept me away to memories of faithful congregations just like this one. For almost 2000 years, the Gospel of Jesus Christ has been transmitted through small groups of Christians gathered faithfully – like Meier Settlement UMC – and like more than 50 central district small churches.  

On the front row was three young teenage boys from different ethnic backgrounds.   They took turns serving as acolytes and ushers throughout the service such as making sure everyone got a bulletin, bringing in the light of Christ, and taking up the offering.   The most precious moment was during prayer time when the pastor, Rev. Danny Niedecken, asked the congregation to all hold hands. These young boys all stood on the front row, heads bowed praying together.   It was a “Storm the Gates!” moment.   No barriers or embarrassment of the faith: just love, grace, and a sharing in worship.

Just behind these boys was a granddad in starched wrangler jeans with a sports coat, grandma in her best Sunday Dress and a little boy with a supercool camouflage jacket, held both of their hands.   When the congregation said the Apostle’s Creed, the young boy looked up at his granddad in absolute awe.   Next to his granddad sat the little boy’s parents. Three generations seeking to faithfully love and serve the Lord.

After offering, the choir of about seven folks began singing.   A choir of 40 would not have done a better job. They sang with passion about their faith and the goodness of God.   The sermon was about the power of the Holy Spirit and how it is at work in us in good times and in bad.   Folks received a word of comfort, a word of challenge, and a word on how to make it through the next week.

At the end of the service, Rev. Niedecken challenged the congregation to be a “Redeeming, atoning, forgiving community of faith.”   Then, the ladies of the church gathered to talk about the dessert fundraiser they were doing at the Tractor Pull next weekend.   And God’s Glory was all around! Since Sunday, my heart has been singing “Old Church Choir” by Zack Williams.

“I got an Old Church Choir singing in my soul
I got a sweet salvation and it’s beautiful
I’ve got a heart overflowing ’cause I’ve been restored
There ain’t nothing gonna steal my joy
No, there ain’t nothing gonna steal my joy”

As we sometimes get caught up in what is going wrong, may we not lose sight of God’s glory all around us.   May we have hearts to see God’s work in the smallest of ways all around and may we let nothing steal our joy!

Where have you seen God’s Glory?

Blessings,

Dr. Leah Hidde-Gregory