Thursday, October 24, 2013

Magic Moments: A Worship WOW!

The 2004 Chicago Mission Team
Today's Throwback Thursday post takes us back in time to 2004 and a mission trip we took from Wesley Memorial UMC in Tampa to serve with the Center for Student Missions in Chicago. It was a great week full of hard work and special moments, and that particular group is one of my favorite mission teams I was ever blessed to be a part of. But today's Magic Moment comes from a specific memory of a very wondrous worship time we shared together.  Here's that story.

Each night of our of the trip we would gather in the common area of the  dorm we were sleeping in for some devotional time led by one of the students. I would bring along my guitar and we would sing a song or two just for the fellowship- it was much like an indoor vespers service.  We had no song sheets or means of projection; we had to sing songs we knew by heart.  By heart...that phrase would mean something completely different to me after our last night in the dorm...

We gathered that last night of our mission work and one of the students shared a devotional, and then I pulled out my guitar asked our little group if they had any requests.  They did.  We began to sing, and as we went through several of our favorite songs from youth group. I could feel the Holy Spirit making itself known in the room.  I decided to wrap up our time by singing three of our favorites-  Sometimes By Step ("O God you are my God..."), It Is You and Sanctuary - as a worship medley.  As we sang these very familiar songs the atmosphere in the room became thick with worship.  We were so connected to each other and to God. The team was completely absorbed in the songs.  I was still playing, but had closed my eyes and was no longer leading music- I was merely a vessel.  As was our tradition, we sang Sanctuary through a final time acapella.  Those 13 voices sounded like a heavenly choir.  We were no longer simply singing words- we were making a promise to God.  "With thanksgiving I'll be a living sanctuary for You."  The singing stopped and there was total silence.  I opened my eyes only to discover that I was no longer facing the group.  I had been spun around and was facing the wall, completely lost in that moment of pure worship.  We all looked at each other and said in a collective voice, "Wow..."

In the days that would follow we would try to explain that moment to parents, friends and even the rest of the church staff, but soon realized it was a "You had to be there" magic moment.  We all knew we had experienced - no, been overwhelmed by- the presence of the living God that night in a very powerful way. I have one prized souvenir from that trip- a bright orange t-shirt I bought to work in. One day on a work site we were doing some painting, and Alexis Woods and Christine Gastler decided to paint on me. They painted names on the front of the shirt, and this messy "I love you" on the back.  Every time I think about this shirt, I am reminded of that trip and the way God blessed us. And how much I loved those kids...

I spent some amazing evenings sharing in worship with youth over the years, but this certainly ranks near the top when it comes to EVERYONE present sensing the Holy Spirit in the room. Come back next Thursday for the story of how some "warm fuzzies" helped create a night no one who was at Melbourne Beach that night will ever forget...

Because of Jesus,

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