I am in Chicago for a couple of days, spending time with 20 young seminary students through the Fund for Theological Education. The program is called the "Congregational Leadership Intensive," and these young adults have been brought together to talk about pastoral leadership.
We started last night with a conversation on what energizes us. Each participant was asked to share the place where she or he gets fed or receives energy. One woman said, "Do you ever have a song in your heart that no one else can hear?" A young man said, "I leave my church every Sunday wanting to dance!" Still another person said, "When a party goes well it is a neat feeling of being together."
I love these comments. I loved hearing them especially on a Sunday evening on which we had experienced a magnificent worship service at Mount Vernon Place. Several things happened yesterday that made me have a song in my heart and a dance in my feet.
* We had several members come back who have not been in church for months, including many children who lined up to offer hugs and stood at the table greeting people. It is always good to welcome people home.
* We struggled together over a difficult passage and the topic of money and wealth as our sermon series on "Why Does the Bible Include That" continued.
* We shared with one another what God is doing in our lives while also letting people know the burdens and the hurts we are carrying.
* We placed our hands on a young couple who used to be part of our church family but now live in Boston. The husband is about to go to Iraq as a member of the Army National Guard while the wife is in law school. We invited them to come forward, we placed a shawl around them that had been knitted for them by a member of the church in our prayer shawl ministry, and we prayed for them. Children came forward to pray. People in the 90s came forward to pray. Young adults came forward to pray. People who know them came forward to pray. And people who had only heard about them came forward to pray. We wrapped them in our love and in our prayers, and placed their care under the hand of the Almighty God.
When the service had ended, I wanted to dance! I wanted to leap for joy, knowing that I had experienced the presence and power of God. I had a song in my heart that I was eager to share. I had a really neat feeling of being together.
Thanks be to God!