OK, that's probably overstating things. I mean, Solomon's Temple opening jamboree has to be pretty high. It is concievable that the Last Supper might make it on the list too, as well as Pentecost or something from Revelation 4 and 5. I guess somewhere in heaven a group of Palestinian shepherds will have their own angel choir story too.
But - having said all that - I have just experienced at least two of the best worship services I have ever been a part of. We've just finished our latest 24 hour worship event here. And the whole thing was amazing, even given the terrible cold I have been suffering. Actually, that added to it in a strange way: it made the dynamic of "sacrifice" a bit more real, it cost a bit more, and that probably deepened everything.
Last night at 10pm we had a jazz service. Dan on bass, Ed on piano, George on drums, Stephen on alto, and me singing. As a jazz service, I think the best we've done. Good, flowing worship, really relaxed, and with a great spiritual energy which we haven't always achieved. In part, this was cos I made sure that people stood and sang (sometimes they just sit and listen), but in part it was cos the Lord and I have been walking a strange path in my personal worship times recently. "Singing in the Spirit" is a good charismatic practice; but scat singing in the Spirit is a bit more unusual, and that's been a part of my life with God for a bit, and last night I let rip a bit. Glorious. A tremendous freeing of the soul. One member of church (Jill) said afterwards that she had never seen me so animated! And actually I felt it too.
This morning we had our confirmation service as the last part of the 24 hour event. It was an amazing service - full of praise and worship and the sense of the presence of the Spirit. Now some of you may feel that this is surely only to be expected. Well, I don't think I have ever experienced a service like this in Wales, not even in Aberystwyth. The relaxed presence of God was palpable. The music was stunning (thanks to Kirsty for some amazing string arrangements in both hymns and songs) and all the musicians working with me (George, Ed, Paddy, Dan, Kirsty and her strings) were on top form. The whole church was filled with the Spirit. It was pure joy.
Maybe it comes from being so in love with my church here; but I have had many wonderful worship experiences in other places and still when I got home I sat here and prayed - "Thank you Lord - that was the best worship service ever!"
And regular readers (the three of you) may remember a thing I wrote in August about courage. As I looked out at a congregation made up of our own folk and many visitors, I was aware of some not liking what we were doing. But I was not dis-couraged; the Lord renewed my courage to be faithful to the call he has placed upon me, and as I felt that spiritual en-couraging my spirit soared.
It was a great day. It was a great morning. It was certainly one of the best worship services I have ever known. And now - Lord, bless this church. Grow this church. May we see this again – and indeed I dare ask that may what we saw today pale by comparison with what you are going on to do here.
You can find photos of the day and a more formal write up on our church web site here.