Sunday, December 5, 2010

Encounter with God

I had an encounter with God last night.

A couple of days ago I decided to begin a new journal entitled: How Have I Encountered God Today? I felt I was drifting through some days, tending to trivia and not really watching for the working of the Lord. I want to be excited and enthralled by my Savior rather than yawning my way home!

However, my first entry was less than exciting; I finally, after several moments of tapping the pencil to my head, wrote down "shelter" and "food." Oh well, I thought, maybe some days I will yawn a little.

Later that evening we traveled to Conway to a Candlelight Carol Service by the Hendrix College Choir, of which our granddaughter, Meredith, is a member. (Invaluable member, I might add.) We've attended many Christmas concerts over the years, all good, usually presented in a regulation school auditorium. This one was different.

Arriving on campus we piled out of the car, tugging on coats, gloves and scarves before walking quickly through the chill wind and rustling dry leaves to a beautiful small chapel, snuggled among larger, stately red-brick buildings.

Greene Chapel, with its warmly intimate sanctuary, set the mood for the service. Dimly lit, the foyer seemed to beckon us in, greeting all with red poinsettias placed in nooks and on tables. Tall, slender black candle "posts" dotted the chapel, awaiting lighting.

As we settled in I admired the diminutive sanctuary. The polished wood ceiling soared upward to a peak, the various pieces forming a beautiful pattern. To the left and right of the front, massive bronze and silver-toned organ pipes stood straight and high, ready to perform. I began to feel as though I had flown back in time, to a scene right out of a Charles Dickens' novel. Perhaps this was a Christmas Eve service on a frigid night in a tiny village far away. Were those snow flurries the people were brushing off their cloaks? Were those really fur-trimmed bonnets the genteel ladies wore? Did I hear the jingle of bells from the sleighs outside, and did some of the gentlemen wear top hats and sport sideburns and mustaches?

I shook loose from my wild imagination and returned to the present.

As the strains of the hymn, Once in Royal David's City, drifted to our ears, the white-robed choir entered, walking single-file down the aisles, each holding a glowing candle. They looked and sounded like angels as they moved to their places, lighting the candle posts along the way.

And I commenced to Have an Encounter with God.

Nine of the choir presented nine different lessons at intervals during the service. All these lessons were pure scripture - no ad-libbing, no comments - just readings of the Word. The first concerned the fall of Adam and Eve, then several read from Isaiah's messianic prophecies, and the last few fed us with the story of the birth of the Messiah, Jesus. The final reader proclaimed the mind-bending truth from John 1 which says: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God ... The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us." After each reading, the young man or woman lit a candle in the stand behind them, then turned, looked straight at the worshipers and said, "The Word of the LORD." We in the audience responded, "Thanks be to God!"

In and around the lessons flowed the magnificent music and words that lifted us to the throne. My heart overflowed with joy in God my Savior!

Later as I pondered over the evening I concluded that I had gotten a good dose of reverence for Almighty God in that place. Whether it came from the serene setting, the God-honoring carols and hymns, the prayers, the orderliness, the powerful, spoken Word - or all of these - I knew I had caught a glimpse of the Lord God eternal, all-powerful, immortal and glorious.

I had encountered my God.

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