i left my church for a very Non-Christian-like reason at one point in my life. i was angry at someone at church and God mostly. I didn’t leave the church altogether because where was i going to go? i still needed God’s people just a different routine. i took this opportunity to see what everybody else in the body of Christ was doing. Jesus’ perfect blood is our ticket in the party. Not perfect theology.
i found myself on the second row to the left of the pulpit at a large church different than my background. Slightly different than the Church of Christ service i am used to. The worship started with one man singing a solo. After one song, a woman with the voice of an angel joined him. In the middle of the second song a man walked up on stage, grabbed a guitar and played while they sang. Quickly another guy walked up and got behind the drum set and gave them a beat to which they all found. By the fourth song an elderly women with fast fingers was playing the keys of a piano. By the end of it whole set there was an entire choir up there!
There was a break in worship at one point for a prayer. i bowed my head ready to listen until i heard two voices, then three, then the whole church erupted in prayer at one time so i started praying loud too. The prayer time lasted about ten minutes until someone started singing loudly and a few people joined in then a few different people raced to front to get the instruments so half the people were singing and the other half were praying. One guy was holding a bible on his forehead and was running laps around the pews yelling something about the Spirit. Something was going on in that church deeper than just craziness.
After a while, the preacher stood up at the pulpit and quieted everyone down. If he hadn’t stopped us, we could have sang and prayed for the rest of the day. The preacher started off slow and so did the congregation. He said a few words about Jesus quietly. The people yelled for more. He got a little louder. The people yelled for more. He said “Jesus is King and wants the best for our very being!” and the people yelled for more. The preacher let loose with poems like spoken word for the next thirty minutes with a few breaks to catch his breath.
Then the invitation.
The preacher concluded his sermon with an invitation for the people to come to the front and be prayed over and feel the Holy Spirit. Literally the entire church (except the few back row people who slipped out the back) rushed the front. i was there to experience how they experienced life with God, and I was on the second row with a crowd of people behind me headed to the front. Slipping out the back quietly wasn’t an option. So i went to the front.
i was guided to men side of the stage. The speaking in tongues began. Speaking in tongues is one of those Christian terms with a lot of different meanings depending on whom you ask. It could be a made up personal prayer language or the language of Angels or the language of the Holy Spirit. Whatever it actually is, it sounds out of this world and very frightening the first time you hear it. Imagine being in a room of English speaking people then suddenly everyone started shaking and speaking Arabic or Chinese. i had my hands up, praying in English when a woman appeared. She grabbed me around the waist with one arm and with her other hand on my face she started praying for me. She asked me if i had ever received the Holy Spirit. i said i thought I had. She said if i was willing then i would now if i hadn’t before. i said i was willing. She told me my face was going to get numb and my tongue would want to talk. She said let it. i held my hands up to pray again. My face did get numb and my tongue wanted to speak so i let it, but it was only English. Actually it was a mumble that sounded to the women like Speaking in Tongues. She sounded the alarm that i had it! My arms were getting tired so two men held my arms while the rest of the church put their hands on me to pray. All of them Speaking in Tongues. i was also shaking. i didn’t know if that was because of the Holy Spirit or a panic attack. I started praying louder in English for God to get me out of there! God was the only one who could hear me because everyone was yelling.
After fifteen minutes of what felt like eternity, i guess they felt like i had felt the Holy Spirit long enough, and i was released. The preacher asked me if i had ever felt the Holy Spirit. i told him, not like that. He laughed so i laughed.
The church service was ending and the preacher was giving the final announcements. One of the announcements being, i had joined the church and was welcome back anytime. i felt really welcome. One day i will go back.
“As it is, there are many parts, but one body.” 1 Corinthians 12:20
1. No one knows all the answers.
2. Worshipping God radical. Sometimes it is deep and serious, and sometimes it is wild and out of control.
3. Jesus' followers are truly a family. Even though we fight and disagree sometimes. What family doesn't?