Saturday, May 21, 2016

God is at work (Resistance is futile), Part 3

Last Saturday I had lunch with some friends and former longtime co-workers. One, wordsmith and singer-songwriter-guitarist Paul Shell, shared a demo CD of some of his original music. I listened to the first five songs on the drive home, and several songs touched me deeply, including "The Call." When I got home, I sent Paul a message telling him how impressed I was and adding that I would like him to sing "The Call" sometime at my church. He said he'd be happy to. 

I was thinking that, if this wasn't just a fleeting idea, it might happen in the summer, when the church choir takes a break and we rely on solos and small groups for special music. 

But God apparently had other thoughts on the matter, as a series of opportunities unfolded that I can only view as divine. 

For me, it actually started with renewed efforts to nurture friendships, including with former co-workers. Small steps had been leading to surprising and enriching connections, and last Saturday's lunch added a strand to that cord of friendship. 

Parts 1 and 2 of "Resistance is futile" also contributed to the foundation. And a church member's enthusiastic evangelistic effort to "fill the church" last Sunday also played a role. The results may have seemed lacking, but a spark was ignited that has not been extinguished. 

Wednesday at choir practice, the director said he would be gone Sunday and the choir would not be doing an anthem. I did something outside of my comfort zone, volunteering to stand at the pulpit and lead the congregational hymns in the director's absence. I often do solos at church and I love to sing the hymns. But I won't be surprised if leading the hymns while standing at the mic isn't as simple for me as one might think. (As an aside, I remember when I volunteered to be liturgist, thinking how cool that role looked. I can speak clearly and read, so why not?? It was not a good experience for me. I chalked it up as a reminder that members of the body of Christ have differing gifts. And that was not one of mine.)

On Wednesday, I also asked if the director had a solo or small group lined up in place of the choir's anthem. He said no. I feel there is a void in worship when there is no anthem or other "special music," but since I would be leading hymns, I was pretty sure no one would also want to hear me sing a solo. It occurred to me: What about Paul? I wondered if my friend would be able to sing on such short notice. I sent him a message, and he was willing and available. So I also contacted the choir director and pastor, and they agreed, too. 

So, Paul Shell will be singing at 11 a.m. Sunday at Goodrich United Methodist Church, 200 W Hayes, in Norman. Be there and be blessed. I know I will be. 

As another aside: I've also invited other friends (something I couldn't get myself to do for last week's "Fill the Church" effort),  and at least one plans to be there. Some could not come, and  others have not responded. Which means this story is continuing to unfold. 

The following Scriptures were presented with Jesus Calling for today, May 21. They seem to fit. 

"What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?"
(Romans 8:31–32)

"But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me."
(Micah 7:7)

And, from First 15:

"Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me." (John 15:4)

And then this one just came to mind:

"But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." (Matthew 6:33)

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