A Gospel Gift

Over this last year there has been a small group of people discussing about the possibility of establishing a second worship service at Nardin Park.  We have read various articles and discussed a variety of possibilities of what kind of worship experience we need to provide and when.  As a part of the exploration our small little band of visionaries decided to plan four worship services based on different styles of music.  The worship services would be offered once a month at a time other than Sunday morning.  In January we would offer a Gospel service, in February a Jazz service, in March a Praise service, and in April a Taize service.

On Sunday night, January 30, we held our Gospel Worship service in the Chapel.  We had invited Alvin Waddles, organist and choir director at Hope United Methodist Church in Southfield to lead us in music.  We also invited the Rev. Anthony Hood, pastor of Scott Memorial United Methodist Church in Detroit to be our preacher.  I knew that Alvin was bringing a drummer with him and maybe some singers.  I knew that Anthony was a passionate preacher.  I knew that the planning of the service was loosely developed so that we could give ourselves over to a different style of experiencing God.  I knew that we had advertised the event. 

What I didn’t know, however, created a lot of internal angst.  I didn’t know if there would be any people in attendance.  (Please, O God, let there be at least thirty of us.)  I didn’t know if Alvin could manage our electronic keyboard in the Chapel.  (This instrument is certainly different than what he was used to.)  And I didn’t know if people would worship or simply watch in mild curiosity.

Be still, my soul.  Alvin arrived with a drummer and nine singers.  They were terrific!  Alvin made that keyboard come alive with such incredible energy!  Rev. Hood knew about our interest in starting a new worship service and he challenged us that God was helping us to start a new thing – a thing that was scary, but a thing that was necessary to help revitalize the church!  And our people didn’t just watch.  All 75 of us caught the spirit and the place was jumping!

Now, I’m thinking about the next worship experience – the Jazz Service on February 26, at 6 pm.  Helping us to create the music for the evening is our own Don Babcock, who is also the Professor of Jazz Studies at Eastern Michigan University.  It’s nice to have that kind of talent in our backyard.  Of course, my inner angst is kicking up again.  Will the people come?  How will it all fit together?  Etc. Etc.

Be still, my soul.  The roller coaster of life consists of ups and downs, of anxieties and celebrations.  I’ve been in the ordained ministry for some 35 years and I still experience the full range of emotions every day seems to bring.  So I’ll continue to worry, continue to prepare, continue to work, and, hopefully, be able to celebrate when God’s spirit breaks in on us and stirs the pot of faith.  I’m with Rev. Hood.  I do believe that God wants to do something new with Nardin Park.  Thank God.