This morning, Gerald and I lead worship at Harpeth Springs Community Church. This is a very young church community - only 9 months old, to be exact. They posted a small ad saying they were looking for "worshipers who could also lead worship", and I gave them a call.
The small, faithful congregation is currently meeting in the parish hall of a more established church, so we had a nice cozy room for worship. There were lots of kids, and the whole atmosphere was warm and friendly.
I had worked very hard to set all our lyrics on a power point thingy so they could show them on the screen. Just by using the word "thingy," you can probably tell I didn't quite know what I was doing. Well, it could have been me, or it could have been that their system wasn't Mac-compatible. Either way, when it came time for the service, the lyrics weren't showing on the screen. Gerald and the sound man started looking for other options to get the lyrics up. As things got later and later, I started to get a little nervous. What if we were messing up their entire morning? What if we were offending the entire congregation? Just as these thoughts were getting worse and worse, the pastor comes over and says, "We just love spending fellowship time before the service. As you can see, people arrive late around here, so we just hang out and get to know each other better." I relaxed completely! We eventually found some printed lyric sheets and started the service.
There was a really gentle energy throughout the whole service. People sang and were joyful, and even the kids sang out. Pastor Jim preached a wonderful message about pursuing Jesus, and we had a great time of prayer.
At the end of the service, we were asked to play a song of reflection during Communion. They did Communion a little differently than I'm used to - the elements were laid out on a side altar, and you could go up and receive them in your own time. It was neat because you really got to receive the bread and wine in a moment of stillness. It reminded me of the fact that our relationship with God is a relationship of choice - God will seek us out, but He will never force Himself on us.
After the service, we got a chance to meet most of the congregation, and the pastor and his wife took us out to lunch. As we enjoyed the Mexican buffet, Jim asked if we would consider leading worship for the next few weeks, up to and including Easter Sunday! We happily accepted, and learned more about what they want to achieve in their new church.
And here's the part where I knew God was in the mix: After the service, Jim and several members of the congregation talked and decided they wanted us back. They loved the music and the way we lead worship, but here's the kicker - they were totally impressed by how relaxed we were when the lyrics didn't work. They loved that we were calm and friendly as we worked with others to find a solution. Good thing they couldn't see my nervousness inside!
Whenever things don't go as planned, I like to say, "I had a plan for today, but apparently God's decided we're following His plan." Well, today, we really were on God's plan, and the results couldn't have been better!
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."