Points to Ponder: 64 hours
Points to Ponder
With Vacation Bible School all week coming to a rousing close on a Thursday night and then two funerals plus the regular Sunday worship services, it was interesting to be in the sanctuary and ponder what went on there. From Thursday, 8:30pm, to Sunday 12:30pm, a span of 64 hours, (less than 3 days) a variety of experiences occurred in the presence of God. They were called worship services. Worship comes from the combination of these words "worth" and "ship". Worship is a time when we lift up God's worth, His worthiness of our praise and thanksgiving.
All week, over 100 children learned some songs and lessons about the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). The chancel area was set up with a farm scene consisting of a barn-style archway, a toy sheep, cardboard cow, and other farm implements. Leaders wore straw hats and bandannas. In the midst of this scene, the children sang songs and celebrated the goodness of God as we had a grand concert of little voices on Thursday night.
All week I had roamed from class to class and witnessed 40 dedicated and talented volunteers teaching the children to know the Lord. Then on the fifth day, Thursday, they knew scripture and thoroughly enjoyed singing about God.
The farm scene was still up through Sunday. On the quiet morning after Thursday night's celebration, a woman came by to pray in the sanctuary. On Saturday, at 11am, a family enjoyed the farm scene as a backdrop to the funeral service we held for an 84-year-old wife, mother, and grandmother. It reminded them of their family's farm in Iowa.
There were tears and laughter as we recounted her life and celebrated the promise of eternal life which faith in Jesus Christ provides. It was interesting to think back on the voices of children from Thursday night and then on Saturday, in this same chancel, as we lay to rest a faithful matriarch who had passed on her faith to her children.
Then at 2pm that same day, all of Laurel came to a halt at various intersections as a police escort rolled down Main Street. In the procession was a fire truck bearing the casket of a Volunteer Fire Department Captain. This same sanctuary was now filled up to the walls with fire fighters in dress uniform, the Laurel Police Chief and Mayor, a state delegate, and other officials. The crying widow and her adult children sat in the front row as the Fire Department Chaplain and I escorted the flag-draped casket to the front. As I stood surrounded by the same farm scene, the faint memory of children's singing and laughter just a day and a half before drifted into my mind.
The family had requested "Butterfly Kisses" as the opening song. Tears poured forth as the song spoke of a daddy watching his little girl grow up. As a father of two little girls, it was killing me to sit with the man's casket and his grieving widow before me and the happy VBS farm scene behind me. "Oh how life flashes by so quickly," I thought as I tried to hold back my own tears.
Crying and laughter, mourning and celebration again filled this space as a whole community said good bye to one of its own--only 52 years old. The exhausting range of emotions from Thursday night to Saturday afternoon had me pondering all of life, in its glory and brevity, as it all was played out in this one sanctuary in the house of God.
Then, there was Sunday morning. There was no grand pipe organ. The hymnals stayed closed. The children led the worship service in skit and song, recalling the lessons learned through the previous week.
I sat behind the pulpit and thought back over the 60 plus hours I had just experienced. Our children sang of the character qualities of the fruits of the Spirit. During prayer time we celebrated the news of babies born last week, and sought comfort for those whose love ones were soon to pass from this world. Also we prayed for the families whose loved ones we had just laid to rest the previous day. All of this went on within that same space of God's sanctuary.
God was there through it all. He is witness to the lives of the individuals and families who all wound up coming into that space as a result of the week's events. Life just keeps going on. In the end, it all comes back to God.
Whether in the beginning of life, in the prime and busyness of life, or in the sunset years of life, it all happens in His presence. That is comforting to know.
Whether life is happy or sad, or times are tough and painful, it all goes by so quickly. God is the only consistent aspect of it all. To know Him, to walk with Him, and to rely on His firm assurance is to have joy, peace, and a perspective of thankfulness regardless of what seasonal storm or beautiful time is passing our way.
He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, "He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust." (Psalm 91:1-2)
This column can be found on the web at: www.fumcl.org. Pastor Whitmore is not affiliated with Picket News, nor does he submit material directly to our publication. We regularly reprint interesting articles found at his public web site and encourage all readers to visit for similar material.