During the recent ice storm, Cindi and I were in Corpus Christi caring for our granddaughter while Forrest and Mercedes were in the Holy Land. After picking them up from the airport in the wee hours of Thursday morning, my plan to sleep late was interrupted by the dinging of my phone. When I checked it, I found there was a discussion going on about worship over the coming weekend. The weather had moderated a lot and the ice was melted. But tree limbs were everywhere on our campus and the power was not expected to be returned to service. Bill Detamore put out the word to help clean up the campus and a great group of volunteers did an amazing job – thank you, thank you! But there was concern about how we would worship with no lights, no sound, no projection, and no heat. As that conversation continued, Forrest and Mercedes were excitedly sharing photos and stories from their trip. It struck me that people have worshipped Christ over thousands of years – mostly without electricity. So, I made the call that we would worship at our usual times.
I opened the services commenting on the irony of preaching on “The Source of Light” when the lights were out and the power off! Yet, at the same time, we all were reminded that the true Source of Light is not our electricity driven technology, but Christ Himself. I remembered worshipping, as a child in Victoria, in a small church with no sound system or organ. Just the people, preacher, and piano. I also remembered worshipping on mission trips, retreats, revivals, and Emmaus weekends with just the people, preacher, and (guitar) picker. Some of those were the most powerful and impactful worship times in my life. Don, Patrick, and Gio did an amazing job of “pivoting” to “worship unplugged.” Kudos and thanks to them and our volunteer musicians/singers!! I stepped off platform and used my slide print-out to guide my sermon. Stella and Thomas raised their voices to guide us in the liturgy. Many of you moved closer to the front. And we worshipped. I cannot tell you how many people told me how much they enjoyed it. In the dark, we had the true Light. In the cool, we had the warmth of true Love. In the quiet, we had the power of the Holy Spirit.
Before Saturday worship, one of our Bethany people was telling me how she was struggling to read her devotional as the batteries faded. Then she remembered some candles she had, got a big one out, and lit it. She said something like, “Maybe it sounds strange, but reading my devotional by candlelight, I felt like Christ was right there with me.” I looked into the darkened worship center and saw the light of the candles and lanterns in the front and thought, “Yes, indeed, He is with us.”
Maybe we need weekends of worship like this one. In our electric techno age, it is good to be reminded the true source of our light, our warmth, the very power that enlivens us is not our technology, but our God.
“The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” John 1:5