Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A Thankful Church

This past Sunday I had the privilege of playing a couple songs at a church in Vancouver, WA. The congregation of this church is mostly made up of people who have or are struggling with an addiction and many of them have served time in prison. You could call it a recovery church, and although I would say every church is a recovery church (or should be) there is something unique about recovering from the kind of pit many of these people have been in. When you’ve been down to the depths where there is only darkness, the slightest hint of light is enough hope to live on for days. And these people in Vancouver had hope, boy did they have hope!

Before the service Kirk and I got to pray with some of the church leaders. I’ve been a part of my share of church services across the country. All sorts of churches and all sorts of people, and the prayer before a service is normally filled with requests that the service go smoothly, that the Lord would be present, all great things to pray about. But as the circle of prayer chimed around me what I heard was

“Lord, thank you for waking me up this morning...”
“Father, thank you for saving me from destruction and bringing my children back to me..”
“Thank you Lord for giving me a chance to live again...”

Every single prayer was overflowing with gratitude and it moved me deeply. I actually had to bend my knees and sit down because I was so overwhelmed (and light headed, probably the babies fault as well :)

Out of that thankfulness came a natural attitude for worship, and the room filled with people bouncing with energy. Although I was part of the service, there was no talk of how the order would go, when lights would come on or off, who would introduce who, what time the service needed to be over, etc.. The focus truly was on worship and community, which was so refreshing.

They sang songs about being free and any chance they had to sing the words “I am free”, they yelled it! They know what it is to be in bondage and they know what it means to be free. As someone who grew up in the church, it was such a wonderful reminder for me of God’s grace and how powerful it is. And also, how celebratory it should be when someone is set free! What a miracle all those people are. I only heard a few stories but the ones I heard amazed me. It had me thinking, if God can turn her life around, he can turn anyone’s life around. I should be thinking those thoughts every day, Lord help me remember!

I was so blessed by these people and found my songs taking on new meanings as I played them. I’m so thankful that they let me be a part of their service!

Thou rising morn, in praise rejoice
Ye lights of evening, find a voice!
O praise Him, O praise him,


Kristyn said...

this is a really beautiful story. thanks for sharing :)

Amanda said...

sounds so much more like the early church than our typical service...

such a beautiful image of community. thanks for sharing!

Nelson Prater said...

Thanks for sharing that story, friend, and for reminding us what church is supposed to be.

Anonymous said...

I was listening to some music today as I drove, and this came on my CD player;

"my chains are gone, I've been set free, my God my savior, has ransomed me, and like a flood, His mercy rains, unending love, amazing grace."

I thought of your post and the words really struck me. Thanks for the reminder.