Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter Sunday - just like any other Sunday at fpcBrandon

Wow... that was tough to deal with - over 48 hours off line! Rebekah managed a little "shovel versus fiber-optic" action Saturday and we were immediately - "poof" - no internet, no tv, no telephone! Also no research, no on-line teaching, no posting on my blog. But we were back up again around suppertime this evening (Monday), and I've been itching to write all day.

Easter Sunday, what a celebration! The whole morning was just brimming over with faith and promise. Church was a lot of fun, we enjoyed a few additional fine-tuned musical touches, all the people were dressed up and full of life, and it was exhilarating to be in a sanctuary so stuffed with people...

Sam speaking to the children
However, what struck me most of all was not so much how different Easter Sunday was... but rather the opposite, the fact that Easter was really just about the same as all the usual Sundays we enjoy around here.

Sure, there were more people; but it was 600-plus rather than our typical attendance around 400 this time of the year. Yes, the music was awesome; but we always enjoy great music at fpcBrandon. And, no surprise, Rebekah's sermon was inspirational and vigorous with life; but isn't that always the way she preaches?

And, yes, there was a buzz of electricity around the sanctuary as people greeted one another, worshipped together, sang their hearts out and shared life... But that's the way our Sunday mornings always are! First Presbyterian Church of Brandon has a buzz that just won't quit. The Spirit is active in this place, and God's people are doing God's good work with conviction and enthusiasm and love, and you can feel it before you even walk in through the doors....
Rebekah preaching at 8:30
  • We get together whenever we can;
  • we share our stories;
  • we worship God with enthusiasm and joy;
  • we study the scriptures;
  • we sing from the deepest places that we know;
  • we listen to thoughtful messages that make us laugh, sometimes make us cry, and always encourage us on our way;
  • we invest ourselves in one-another;
  • we talk about what we can do to make the Good News more evident in the way that we live;
  • we reach out into the world with love and compassion.... 
And we do all this in the spirit of a love that never condemns, always listens, believes with a passion, and is motivated to share the Gospel because - well - the good news really is that good!

Someone asked me my favorite moment. Well it's tough to settle on one thing, but if I had to chose I'd say it was about halfway through the HillSong United praise tune, "Mighty to Save". I was playing guitar, singing my heart out, and feeling a most excellent musical groove; around me, our 16-piece orchestra was playing pure notes with rich tones. I looked up and into the sea of faces in the congregation, giving the song absolutely everything they had. And there, right in the front of all those people, Rebekah was wearing the most peaceful, joy-filled expression and I knew - I just knew....

Was it a moment of pure worship? Was it an experience of ultimate community? Was it simply a washing over of glorious music and a taste of eternity? Was it the presence of the Holy Spirit? Was it heaven, crashing into earth, fragmenting into peace and love and holy fellowship?

Yes! Absolutely and quite naturally. All of the above. If you don't believe me, show up next week. It's how church is meant to be.
Peace - the good kind - DEREK
Looks like Tom and David got the good seats!

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