Thursday, August 10, 2006

Just Hit the Highlights

We continued out study of the Nazarene Articles of Faith last night. This was our third session and we began the night with where we left off, Article 9. Before we left the house to go to the church, my father, the pastor, asked if I would be finished teaching tonight. I responded by saying, " There is no way we will finish tonight." He responded, "Well, just hit the highlights."

That phrase resounded in my mind for the next few moments. Isn't this what the Church of the Nazarene has done for years? Isn't this the reason I am teaching these classes on the Articles in the first place? In our church, we have just "hit the highlights". What better way to produce ignorance and apathy in our cogregations than to just hit the tip of the iceberg on everything and forget the details. We are a denomination BECAUSE of the details. We are a part of the Protestant Church BECAUSE of the details, so why continue to "hit the highlights"?

I responded to my father by saying what you have just read and he passively agreed. But here is the beauty of the Holy Spirit. We began the service last night with a couple of songs and prayer, then I began to speak. We spoke about justification, regeneration, adoption, entire sanctification, and baptism. In those, I did, more or less, "hit the highlights", and I explained to the congregation that I wished I could dive more into the details, but time would not allow.

What happened next was the glorious work of the Holy Spirit. We moved to the next Article on the Lord's Supper and I began to explain the factors involved in this sacrament. We began to talk about who is allowed to take communion, and what do we as the Church of the Nazarene believe about this debate. I began to see the legalism involved in having an exclusive table, or a closed table, and I mentioned the "means of grace", and the Spirit began to speak. The Spirit of the Lord took over and for a few moments I could not talk. I knew something had to get out, but I physically could not talk. After a while of fighting back my physical muteness, I began to speak, but it is like I have never spoken before. I was not talking. I truly believe that the Holy Spirit was speaking through me.

For the next 20 minutes, the Spirit spoke through me about how the non-Chirstian can walk into this church and sense a love so powerful, it is overwhelming. We went through the order of a typical worship service and explained how the practices of the Church can speak to the one who knows nothing about God. We continued to speak about how much each part of the service can mean to someone. Even the offering means that we are a giving people, who do not have to give, but we give out of love for God and for others. We then spoke about the sermon, and we said whether or not it is a salvation sermon, it doesn't matter for the Word is being pronounced. We spoke about how much worth is found within the hymns, and how much a hymn can speak to someone. We spoke about the Lord's Supper next and it is only by the Grace of God that my voice continued to be audible. "Who are we to say that God cannot work through this practice of the Faith?" "Who is to say that a person who does not know the Lord, cannot be made to know Him at this sacred moment?" "Who is to say that God's Holy Spirit cannot move upon a person partaking of this practice that was instituted by Jesus Christ Himself?" The congregation began to speak up with the same Spirit. We ended the night with prayer, joined hands in a circle as one, the Body of Christ, and we talked to God and thanked Him for coming and speaking.

I believe in the Lord's Supper as a means of Grace. I believe that the Spirit can speak to anyone through this sacred act, and I believe that Salvation can come at the Table, where we meet God Himself.

I thank God for last night. I pray that He will continue to move His Church. Out of a service where we were supposed to "hit the hightlights", Christ came and led us into the details.

Thanks be to God.

Humbled and Open,

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