From Your Pastor, May 9

From Your Pastor, May 9

The Most Unusual Midway Morning Worship Services in Recent Years 

I love thy Kingdom, Lord
The house of thine abode,
The church our blest Redeemer saved
With his own precious blood.

First, the winner of the FREE BOOK CONTEST, who guessed the significance of the dates from my previous devotional, is Richard Vogh. He rose to the occasion and won going-away. The runner-up (for most perceptive), who also gets a free book, is new member, Dami Adeyoe. See his guesses below.
 
Below, in no particular order are five of the worship services from my recent memory that stand out as the most unusual and perhaps most joyful services recently—starting with last Sunday’s.
 
May 3, 2020   It was beyond joyous to gather in our sanctuary, to have a real worship bulletin, to sing together—and you sounded like a great choir—to verbalize our faith together, to see each other in more than Zoom’s gallery view, to give our offerings, and to listen in concert to God’s Word. The last previous service before suspending in-person worship had an attendance of about 185 as the virus was breaking. We would have been very pleased to resume at that point. However, 221 of you showed up, and brought your smiles, voices, and your masks! Several told me of choking up a bit while singing the first hymn; and we all loved uniting to praise our God. One of the things I enjoyed the most was shuffling the seating (even though I had my regular pew)—it almost looked like a new church. And your attitudes and cooperativeness made it a very memorable day. Our deacons did a superb job, and we will follow similar protocols this Sunday.
 
Dec 10, 2017   Snow Day. We cancelled Sunday School classes and evening worship in view of the weather on this Sunday morning in 2017. Your pastor wore and preached in his boots. We roped off half of the sanctuary, and we still had an attendance that was above our expectation. Packed together as that service was, the singing was great. We simplified things, but the basic elements of worship are plenty strong to sustain us. Sure, some could not make it, but it was a fun and energized worship service that honored the Lord.
 
Jan 25, 2009   Dedication Sunday. This one cut things very close, as we were waiting until the last minute to get all our occupancy permits for our new buildings. Everyone worked hard and gave selflessly to allow us to complete a 21-month building program. Pastor Terry Johnson from the Independent Presbyterian Church in Savannah (which was the inspiration for many features in our sanctuary) preached the sermon on Dedication Sunday, and we rejoiced as we worshipped together.
 
Dec 7, 2014     Debt Retirement Sunday. The people of Midway, despite a crippling recession and other challenges, rallied together and gave sacrificially to allow us to retire the mortgage on our new buildings in under 6 years. Of course that would not have happened without people loving their church, participating, sacrificing, and giving. We had several guests join us for that day (Andrew Hall brought a co-worker for the first time, Sean Dunehew, who is now my daughter Devon’s husband), and we used music and litanies for the occasion. Paying that mortgage off early, then, has allowed us to contribute $3 Million dollars over and above our general fund to other strategic missions and ministries since then. This Sunday, which provides a lasting reminder that “to whom much is given, much is required,” was a memorable Lord’s Day for rejoicing and giving God thanks.
 
April 4, 2021  Next Easter. I know this date is future, but most of us never expected to be alive and miss an Easter service as in 2020 We were planning to begin a sunrise Easter service this year, but next year, Lord willing, we’ll gather for services and enjoy giving God praise.
 
Here’s to many more joyous and memorable worship services. There’s no reason to think that the next years won’t permit similar peak times.
 
Also it’s worthwhile to recall this: unlike some traditions, we stress that EVERY Lord’s Day is a peak time for our growth in grace. We are not seeking to program or manipulate emotional reactions to/in worship. Instead, we seek to call God’s people to faithful, regular, simple, and biblical worship. All are services of resurrection.
 
And if you’ve missed being at worship and are looking for a smaller service, join us as we resume our Evening worship on May 17 at 6:00 PM.
 
As another hymn puts it: “We long to see your churches full, that all the chosen race may, with one voice and heart and soul, sing your redeeming grace.”
 
 
While I’m at it, please accept a large and heartfelt thanks to you, dear congregation, for all your prayers, offers to help, support, and friendship during this once-a-century period. Your encouragements and smiles, along with willingness to pitch in, have been great witnesses.

—David Hall
 
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From Dami Adeyoe:
 
Also, the 1st thing all the dates below have in common is that they are on a Sunday. In addition, very tragic events occur in all of them with the exception of the 2021 data which is Easter.
 
Dec. 10, 2017 – Hurricane Irma
Jan. 25, 2009 – Swine Flu Pandemic
Dec. 7, 2014  – Typhoon Hagupit hits central Philippines; millions flee homes for shelter
May 3, 2020  – Killer Hornets from Asia
April 4, 2021  – Easter