The gentle draw of worship
It was one of the most unique worship spaces I have experienced. The back porch extended about twenty feet from the back of the modest home. There was a roof overhead and a deck served as the floor. The back of the house served as one wall. Two other walls were mostly unfinished. There was no back wall.
Words to the songs were projected on the wall of the house. The lyrics were framed by a small bathroom window, a washing machine, and the hot water heater. About thirty folding chairs were on the deck and about that many more in the yard. There was a modest cross on a table, a key board, a couple of guitars, and a few music stands.
Laity led the music and the owner of the house gave his testimony. His story began with the words, “Jesus and the church saved my life.” He had battled alcohol and drugs, was a threat to himself and his family, and was in his words, dying.
But he encountered Jesus Christ through a friend who belonged to the United Methodist Church in the city several miles away. He became part of a discipleship group and heard God’s call on his life. He had little formal education and lived in one of the poorest sections of the country, along the border of Texas and Mexico.
Now he was telling a group of people that included several United Methodist Bishops his story. God had called him to use his home as a place for people to come and worship. He was building a place for his neighbors to worship, one plank of wood at a time. His wife and son also shared how thankful they were to God that their husband and father was still alive and had given himself to God. The son said that he had heard a call to ministry in the very place we had gathered to worship.
Testimony time continued when the neighbor from across the street stood to speak. She began her conversation saying that she did not like all the noise that was coming from this house. She had called police when the music got too loud. She had determined to do everything possible to shut down the gathering. She did not believe in God and described herself as a closed-minded atheist.
But her neighbors began to invite her to come to eat. She and her family lacked enough food, so she would come. She would not stay for worship; instead, she had begun to tolerate the noise. And then one night, she did stay for worship and her life was changed. Now she is one of the leaders.
After worship, the little church fed everyone who was there. The poor were feeding their neighbors, including the rich!
God is still at work in the world and in the United Methodist Church. It does not take a lot of money, but it does take an open heart. How might God impact your community today?