God of surprises
God never ceases to surprise me, and nor do his people!
At Messy Church the other week I was doing the talk. It was about The Road to Emmaus (if you don't know this beautiful story it's in Luke chapter 24) and I was sharing how the risen Lord walks with us on our journey through life, even though there are times when we don't seem able to see him. The atmosphere was fairly normal – noisy and messy, as you expect at Messy Church.
Then I said "Let us pray" and stood there and waited. The noise just faded out in what felt like a very holy way: from the smallest baby present to the oldest grandparent, everyone just tuned in to God's presence. It felt as though that same risen Lord who walked with the disciples on the Emmaus Road all those years ago was walking among us, stilling our hearts…
Totally different context. Book of Common Prayer Communion Service last Sunday. Hasn't changed much since 1662 really. However George was down to speak about healing, because the 10am service next up was due to be a healing service. So George said, "Why don't we offer healing at 8am too? We can ask everyone who wants anointing with oil and prayer to stay at the rail after they have received the sacrament, then we'll pray for them."
Well I must admit that the reason we have never done this before at 8am is because I have misjudged everyone. I really thought nobody would want it – but maybe if George produced a real cracker of a sermon one or two of the braver souls might give it a try. I was amazed and delighted when almost every single person at that service stayed at the rail for prayer.
I have to say I was humbled too. God and his people far exceeded my limited expectations. Well done all you 8 o'clockers and thank you Lord! I'm all agog now to get some feedback from the congregation (and from the 25 or 30 who came to the prayer stations at the 10 o'clock service) to find out what happened. What did God do for you at that very special time in his presence? Please let me know!
These are just two very recent examples of the very many ways God has blessed me, encouraged me and opened my eyes through all of you at St Matthew's. You have done so much more for Elisa and me than we have done for you. We are going to miss everyone so much!
However do not forget that the same Lord who has been with us through all those special times, hard ones as well as delightful ones, isn't leaving. Vicars come and go, but He will never leave you nor forsake you. He is working out His plans for us and for you and He has many more amazing surprises in store for St Matthew's!