This was my first on site worship service in my home church since my retirement. It has been six months since my retirement. It has been sweet. During this period I have been watching my home church’s online recorded services and later live streamed services. I decided to keep away from church for several months so that Pastor Alvin Lim who has succeeded me in leading the English Congregation can establish himself with the congregation that he is leading. My pastor friends think it should be a longer period. I am in two minds about it as every situation is different. I am inclined to ease in gradually and incrementally rather than suddenly. Anyway I have been invited to preach in other churches so that would be equivalent to a scaled return. If there are no invitations there is always the option of on-site during holy communion Sundays and online during other Sundays when I am not preaching anywhere. Hmm….this sounds good and I am at peace about this in the next phase.
IT FELT GOOD
It felt good to worship without the weight and concerns for how the worship service went, for attendance and offerings, for latecomers and the sermon quality, and all other hiccups. I cautioned myself to take off the senior pastor hat and sit back and enjoy, and it was good to sit back and be fully present for worship and what the Spirit may be moving my heart towards. Today I felt drawn to point people to Jesus, my neighbours, fellow retirees and other people I meet who do not know the Lord. Lord, empower me to reach out in love and service and witness.
IT WAS A JOY
It was a warm feeling meeting with church folks whom I have not seen for six months. It was such a joy to see them, such a joy to gather, worship and listen to God’s Word together with God’s people. I was not used to the new processes and arrangement but there is a kind of joy and and love and energy being given off and bouncing off live bodies and souls. These intangibles are difficult to put into words – the koinonia of the Spirit. The words of mystic John the apostle, “We saw it, we heard it, and now we’re telling you so you can experience it along with us, this experience of communion with the Father and his Son, Jesus Christ. (1 John 1:3 Message). We are with one another together singing, praying, listening to the sermon, partaking of the Lord’s table, and interacting and while doing all this the Spirit makes possible a kind of spiritual osmosis where the life of the Father and the Son are permeated to all by the Spirit. It may not always be felt emotionally or experientially but nevertheless we receive his graces and gifts. For me it was an infusion of inspiration, peace and joy.
I was glad, very glad to be physically present in the house of worship this morning. I long for the day where we can worship and interact unhindered but as my predecessor Rev Johney used to quip, “If you do not have real teeth, false teeth will have to do.” You still get to eat.
TO WHAT SHALL I LIKEN WORSHIP SERVICES
Unrestricted worship services (like before Covid-19) is like eating with a full set of real teeth. On site worship with restriction is like eating with some implanted false teeth. On line worship service is like eating with full set of dentures.