Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” – Matthew 28:18-20
SURPRISED BY JOY: Sunday morning at church turned out to be one of those serendipitous occasions that reminds me why it’s so good to worship with such a vibrant community of faith.
It’s June, countless church families have headed out on vacation, people are posting Facebook pictures from all over the United States, and I showed up at WFPC expecting one of those sleepy summer Sundays when nothing remarkable happens.
Instead, not only did we enjoy good crowds at both worship services, but we commissioned our summer missionaries, we shared the bread and the wine in communion together, there was joy and there was laughter, the spirit of worship was powerful, and my discipleship class had to pull in extra chairs.
I know I shouldn’t be taken by surprise when I encounter God’s grace, and experience the beauty of intimate faith-based fellowship, but the truth is that God is continually, moment-by-moment, making inroads into my soul, and there’s hardly ever a Sunday when I am not, as C.S. Lewis put it in the story of his own journey, surprised by joy.
MISSIONARIES: As people came forward to receive communion, several of our teens had baskets full of colorful wrist-bands. Each color corresponds with a different mission adventure – eight in all from late June through early August. The idea is to wear our wristbands all summer long as a reminder to pray, but with particular emphasis on the week that matches the color we’re wearing.
We have teams of youth (and advisors) going to Washington DC, and to Belize, working with local urban mission projects, helping to lead VBS, attending conferences, and supporting efforts such as homeless and hunger ministries already in place here at WFPC.
That means – with my blue and green wristbands – that I will be praying for our missionaries all summer, but I’ll be praying more intentionally, and with more attention, during the “Raleigh Mission #1” and then the “Montreat Conference.”
GOD MOMENT: It was during communion at the 11:15 service, watching so many people come forward to “do this in remembrance of me,” that God specifically touched me. The particular moment was when a father and his son stood still together, just for a moment, waiting their turn. The boy was one of the teens commissioned to share God’s light and grace this summer, and I realized that – in the act of the shared bread and wine – we were all participating in his opportunity, his responsibility, and his joy.
And there it was, serendipity; surprised by joy; God nourishing me through this faithful community. Love and blessings – DEREK
Derek has published seven books in the past decade (you can find them at https://www.amazon.com/Derek-Maul/e/B001JS9WC4), and there's always something new in the works.
Before becoming a full-time writer, Derek taught public school in Florida for eighteen years, including cutting-edge work with autistic children. He holds bachelor's degrees in psychology and education from Stetson University and the University of West Florida.
Derek is active in teaching at his church: adult Sunday school, and a men's Bible study/spiritual formation group. He enjoys the outdoors, traveling, photography, reading, cooking, playing guitar, and golf.