Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Being surprised by God
One of my delights is being surprised by God. This past Sunday was M.E.A. weekend in Minnesota. Traditionally this is a day of low worship attendance in churches as many families are traveling out of town. Amy, Hannah, and I spent Thursday, Friday, and Saturday of M.E.A. weekend visiting with friends in Rochester.
I woke up very early this past Sunday thinking and reflecting on what was going to happen in worship at Chain of Lakes. I wasn’t anticipating a large turnout of people, and I wasn’t anticipating that we would have any first-time guests. But I also know from experience that God frequently will surprise me.
So I prayed the following—“Lord I’m not expecting a large turnout today at Chain of Lakes, and I have no reason to think that we will have any first-time guests, but would you surprise me? This congregation is your congregation, and I’m asking for your Spirit to work in a wonderful way today.”
Wow—was I surprised. We had a higher attendance than our weekly average; much higher than I anticipated. We had two families visit us for the first time. They both came because they found the web site of our congregation—colpres.org. During worship I offered the ritual of anointing. As Kellie Burriss—the Music Director at Chain of Lakes—sang, I invited people to approach me. As this happened I would ask each person if they had a particular prayer request. I would then anoint the person’s forehead with oil and pray with them.
A large number of people came forward to receive anointing. Some were in tears. These were special moments complete with the pregnancy of the Spirit.
Praise God for surprises. No matter what we think will happen in worship or in the church, God is always working in wonderful and surprising ways. I pray that all of us will keep faith in this surprising God.