I was able to attend the Mid-Week Vespers service at Hixson UMC last night. I wasn't able to attend last week due to the Church Conference at the church I attend, but that was a blessing to attend because I was able to speak with our District Superintendent. I was also encouraged by reports shared that evening by members of our congregation and the District Superintendent.
Though I didn't write about it, the week prior at mid-week vespers turned out to be very special to me because there was a God-appointment there for me that I knew nothing about until I showed up. I often help with the service in varying roles as needed. That night there was no one to read Scripture, so I was asked to read the Scripture portions and glad to do it. Before the service began, a friend that I hadn't seen in a while entered the sanctuary. Last spring she had told me how meaningful these services were to her. It was neat to see her. The God-appointment was with her. We stayed in the sanctuary talking after the service for a while. It was a blessing to sit and listen and share with her.
Back to last night...
The theme was "A New Beginning" from A Guide to Prayer For All Who Seek God.. Two readings from the reading reflections were shared during the service. One was by Rueben Job (p.401-402) and the other by William Shannon (403).
It is always good to enter the sanctuary, to sing the reflective songs, to listen to the Scriptures and reflections, to have time in silence. This worship service allows my spirit to reconnect with my body, by taking the time to breathe, and allowing my body to rest for a few moments, I find that my soul is always refreshed and refilled after the short time of worship.
The quote above by William H. Shannon touched several connection points in my life and caused me to reflect on change, reality, and prayer. William H. Shannon is a new name for me, so I researched him and learned that he was a Thomas Merton scholar who passed in 2012. You can read the homily shared at his funeral here.
The songs that we sang last night can be seen in the bulletin in the second picture shown above:
"As We Gather"
"Three in One Praise"
"The Steadfast Love of the Lord"
The incense had been lit prior to when I entered the sanctuary and the rising smoke was visible. That always brings to mind the Scripture passage Psalm 141:2--"Let my prayer be counted as incense before you, and the lifting up of my hands as an evening sacrifice."
I appreciate the opportunity to rest my heart, mind, body, and soul in a worship experience. It is also a wonderful opportunity for me as it isn't the local church where I worship, but another church near my home. That allows me to worship within the connectional system, as it is another United Methodist congregation. If it were a different denomination, that would allow me to worship in an ecumenical way, and that would be a wonderful opportunity too.
I won't quote the entire Rueben Job quote, but I will share this from the first paragraph: "Life itself provides a constant opportunity to grow, and to grow is to become new, to have a new beginning. How is God calling you to begin anew today?" (401)
Blessings on your new beginnings,