Experiencing the Presence

Life Notes—October 14, 2010

“Refuse to come into the presence of the Lord and not experience it.”  Harvey Carey 

I love this quote.  I heard it last year at a worship conference.  I do not remember who said it, and I do not know who Harvey Carey is, but his words move me to my core.  If I asked where the presence of God is, what would you say?  Perhaps the most obvious answer would be, “Everywhere.”  But I also suspect you, like me, have places where it is easier to sense the presence of God than others.  One place (hopefully) is in worship.  Perhaps it is in the mountains, or other places where you feel close to nature.  Another, for me, is the area of my home where I most often go to pray, study and meditate.  I call it my nest.  There is something powerful about places where God has been sought for some time.  Ditto for places that are bathed in silence, or at least free from the sounds of the daily grind.  I have had the opportunity to be in a number of European cathedrals, some of which date back to the 13th century.  They absolutely ooze with a spiritual presence our 100+ year young sanctuary may dream of one day attaining.  Sounds linger longer.  People automatically speak softly, if at all, and walk pensively.  There is simply no doubt, the ground on which you stand is holy ground, made holier by centuries of worship, baptisms, confirmations, weddings and funerals.  The faithful through many ages, all seeking the One in the same space.  It leaves impressions.  It is simply unthinkable to enter such a place without sitting quietly and experiencing the Presence. 

And yet, that same presence, maybe less obviously, is alive and well in the worship places at First Church.  Our sanctuary has seen the turning of two centuries, two world wars, extreme racial tensions—traces of which linger within its walls.  Brady Hall and the Celebration Center hold the more recent memories of weddings and baptisms and gatherings of worship and fellowship.  Refuse to enter any of these sacred places without experiencing the presence of God-with-us lingering there. 

This Sunday opens a new worship chapter in the faith life at First Church, as we begin our fifth Sunday-morning worship service, this one at 11:00 at our west campus.  Like the other four services, it will be marked by good and worshipful music, insightful preaching and rooted in prayer and scripture.  It is a perfect combination for experiencing the presence of God, regardless of which service or location you chose to attend.  One thing is for certain: God will be equally present at all. 

Tom’s sermon the downtown services this week titled, “Praying for Justice,” based on Luke 18:1-8.  Life worship begins at 9:40 in Brady Hall.  Traditional worship is at 8:30 and 11:00 in the sanctuary.  Mitch is preaching at the west campus, where contemporary worship is at 9:00 and 11:00.  His sermon is the first in a series titled, “Hope Floats: Ark,” based on Genesis 6:11-22. 

Come home to worship this Sunday.  Experience the Presence with us!

Greg Hildenbrand, Life Music Coordinator

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