Friday, April 29, 2016

"Conspicuous"

John 17.11b, 21, 22b-23 NASU

“Holy Father, keep them in Your name, the name which You have given Me, that they may be one even as We are.” “...that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me.” “...that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me.”

I felt self-conscious. Out of place. It was hard for me to enter a crowd of twenty-something’s as the only senior citizen in sight. “Why is he here?”, I thought they must be thinking. I had been invited by Phil Comer, the pastor of A Jesus Church, then called Solid Rock, to attend their weekly gathering of college aged kids called “The Way”. I had heard over a thousand kids attended each Friday night for worship, teaching, and fellowship. That sounded more like a move of God than a church service. I could hardly believe that many young people would forsake their traditional party night, travel from all over two states, and converge in remodeled warehouse to meet God.

Phil told me to meet him behind the sound booth. That’s apparently where occasional visiting ‘silverbacks’ are allowed to congregate. I felt painfully conspicuous. It was difficult to stay put while I waited for Phil. But stay I must to see what God was doing in this holy place. I acted way out of character… quiet, motionless, looking straight ahead, trying to make the smallest ‘carbon footprint’ possible. I closed my eyes and wished for invisibility.

It’s hard to express the relief I felt when Phil joined me behind the sound booth. My experience exceeded expectations. The place was packed and energy was palpable. The Holy Spirit was present. The music was excellent. The pastor’s son, John Mark, was hard-hitting and right-down-the-line Bible. He spoke for nearly an hour reading almost two full chapters from the book of Acts. John Mark preached with power and personal conviction. I whispered to Phil, “Speaking as one father to another, you must be very proud of your son.” Pastor Phil nodded only slightly, and smiled.

As I drove home Friday night, I called my son, Stanford, who had been an active member of Solid Rock, a regular at “The Way”, and now a freshman at St. Olaf College in Minnesota. We laughed about my self-consciousness. Stan has always considered me virtually ‘un-embarrass-able’. He was delighted to hear I am not at ease in every situation and he wished he was present to watch me squirm. He reminded me of my tasteless “dad humor” like when I tried to hold Stan’s hand at Washington Square Mall. Or, the times I hiked my pants up to my chest and asked his high school buddies silly questions. Apparently, I thought it was a God-given right to embarrass my kids. Stan was glad to see the shoe on the other foot for once.

More importantly, we talked about the joy of knowing Jesus and the mighty things God was doing at my son’s church. I’m quite certain my “The Way” debriefing with Stan pleased Jesus. Possibly, we were fulfilling Christ’s 2,000 year old intercessory prayer: “...that they [Stan and his dad] may be one”.

In some miraculous and mysterious way, in spite of the obvious generational gap, I was “one” with over a thousand kids like Stan under the umbrella of Christ’s love. For a brief moment on a Friday night in April, 2008, I was transported to heaven and “perfected in unity” together with saints of (and from) every age who proclaim with conviction…

“I worship the God of our fathers as a follower of the Way”.
Acts 24.14 NIV

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The beautiful blue-lighted picture of youth in worship at Calvary Chapel in Prescott, Arizona, was taken by professional photographer Angela Ashcraft and used by permission. 

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