Sunday, June 04, 2006

24 - One day of worship

24 hours of worship. A perfect day.

Back in Febrauary, I heard Jonathan Wilmot from Greyfriars Reading preach a sermon in Wengen, in which he referred to the Hebridean revival; the people there simply trusted that if they prayed and repented, God would bless them. It made me stop and think: should we do that here at St Catherine's?

I live by 13 words: my job is to worship God: His job is to grow the church. And it seemed to me to be the Lord's leading that if we as a church did our job, we could be sure he would do his. So the idea for a perfect day, 24 hours of worship, began to form. A further conversation with Jonathan the next day gave me the date for our day of worship - Pentecost 2006. Today.

So with the worship team here we began to plan. We created a day that would embrace all the worship styles of our church, and more besides. Jazz, organ hymns, praise band, taize, art, kids praise, silence. We also wanted to demonstrate the importance of Scripture to us, so we decided to read out loud the whole of St John's Gospel during the day - a chapter for nearly every hour. Dan Jones came up then with the idea of me reading out St Paul's letter to the Romans, which he would intersperse with some guitar suites adapted from JS Bach.

So we did it. It started yesterday at noon, and finished today at 12.30. It was one of the most awe inspiring things I have ever experienced. Time and again I was struck by the power and the beauty of our God as we worshipped. The variety of styles kept everything fresh, but the constancy of the experience of worship kept everything real. Four of us did the whole day; four more only missed small amounts. We were seldom in single figures (amazingly we were 11 for Romans and Bach at 3am!!) and the biggest crowds (apart from the celebration service to end the day) were at the Songs of Praise (old fashioned hymns) hour, and at the Praise Band (contemporary worship) hour. I think that represents us well! Friends in India of church warden David Carver prayed with us through the day - I look forwards to hearing how it was for them.

Tears and laughter, deep moments of awe, simply a sense of the Spirit of Jesus - these were at the heart of the day. Seeing the sun begin to rise as we read through Romans, and the day dispelling the night was amazing. And the kindness of people - Julie Davies making a lunch for me afterwards, and dropping it round to the house touched me enormously.

So Lord: we are doing our job. I know you are doing yours. I look forwards to seeing how this church grows. And please don't let me forget the power of this day. It has been perfect.

1 comment:

Ricky Carvel said...

This excites me and humbles me at the same time. In my current church situation I am not exposed to anybody with the level of enthusiasm for Jesus that you have, I'm increasingly missing being back in St. Mikes these days - sometimes you really don't fully appreciate something until its gone. I'm humbled (and a bit ashamed) because I'm not sure I'd have the faith to do something like your marathon praise. I'm pretty certain that if I tried to organise something similar in our church, there would be times when nobody was there - our folk would actually start to leave after 24 minutes, let alone a few hours.

And yet your example is inspiring too. I was talking to our vicar the other day about how we can start to 'lead people on' in worship - until now the musicians have tended to provide music for singing along to, rather than actually leading worship - and while I'm not going to start with a 24 hour marathon, I wonder if experimenting with different styles of worship would have some benefit. For a small church (average attendance 40-50 folk, including kids) we have an incredibly diverse bunch of people, coming from almost all Christian backgrounds possible (including catholic, high anglican, presbyterian, baptist, pentecostal, etc.) and it is a tricky job trying to find the right worship balance so that nobody is excluded. I'd value your prayers on that issue.

Anyway, keep up the good work and the inspiring blog. And maybe if you do this again in the future I'll take a wee trip down to Wales and say 'hi' at 4am...