worship in two settings – the garden and the sanctuary

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“God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy1:7).

“from Issachar, those who understood the times and what Israel should do…” (1 Chronicles 12:32)

  • (Note: today’s post features two separate photo collections; first 12 slides from the garden, then a set from worship…)

Sunday morning is always a beautiful experience. Of course I prefer the feel of a crowded campus, services full with so many enthusiastic worshippers, the literal presence of my Sunday school class, the profound intimacy of a community rooted in and sustained by the practice of love.

But there is beauty here now too, in the midst of this pandemic.

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WFPC rose garden, this weekend

This is my pattern: I arrive at the church early, with Rebekah. Then, while she prepares to lead on-line worship, I walk – as I did again yesterday – through the church gardens where I pause to breathe in the beauty and the serenity. Beauty is the breath of God, really, it is one of the ways that we are loved, it is the subtle whisper of the Creator, the brush of a kiss from the spirit of light.

Sometimes I will take my camera with me. Yesterday my prelude to worship started in the garden and then moved into the sanctuary. It is a peaceful, meditative approach to Sunday morning; the garden is one of those thin places where God always seems to shift the weight of his presence to reach in when I am also leaning in to listen.

First set – photos from the garden:

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“Those who understand the times”

DSC_0565Rebekah’s message (you can watch the video here) took an imaginative look at a scripture only someone paying attention on her level could see as God speaking into this particular moment. But the passage was so apropos, and the words hit home very clearly.

King David, she explained, was assembling forces to help establish his rule; this chapter catalogs the who’s-who of the story. The various tribes offered particular strengths which are listed: shields, spears, readiness, numbers, bravery, loyalty, experience and more. Then, there is this verse that’s so easily overlooked… “from Issachar, those who understood the times and what Israel should do…” (1 Chronicles 12:32)

As Christians who follow Jesus, people chose to be part of a movement of light and love, sharing God’s winsome invitation to the world, we are called to be people who “understand the times.” And as we understand the times, – Rebekah said – we are called to respond accordingly.

Because, and this is critically important, “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy1:7).

I want that idea to be our benediction, our charge, our sending out into this week. May God be with us as we bring understanding to these unsettling times.

– DEREK

Photos from worship:

 

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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.

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