The church Bethany and I have recently started attending is in the process of merging one of their services into a “gospel fusion center.” I’m all about it. Though most of my life I’ve attended more sedate, traditional or non-denominational churches, I’m an expressive worshiper. I like hand raising and dancing. Joy needs expression! And for me, joy comes from worship.
Today was a “test run” with the new gospel pastor and worship staff. I forgot how long it had been since I worshiped with a charismatic congregation. It was wonderful. For once I didn’t feel like I needed to curb my enthusiasm for fear of distracting others. I could just WORSHIP.
Being more introverted, my sister does not get into full body worship like I do. If given the chance to sit while others dance, she sits. I suspect she tolerates the idea of gospel fusion worship more for my sake than any innate enjoyment. Which I appreciate. But it can feel a bit aggravating. Especially leaving service today, I was bursting with enthusiasm and eager to share it with someone. And Bethany…well, Bethany just shrugged and said something to the effect of, “It was fine, I guess.”
Does being extroverted or introverted impact how you worship?
Bethany and I visited a megachurch today and it had…A PARKING GARAGE.
It was a huge building with three separate auditoriums in the main church (and three campuses.)
But despite its size, the church was super friendly and several people (on staff and off) said hello. It wasn’t a great Sunday to visit since they were vision casting but I definitely think we will be back. And with services offered at 9 different times…it sure is easy to go!
Pastor: *during children’s sermon* “And how do we get to heaven?”
Children: “We DIEEEEEEEE’!”
Me: “Well, they are not wrong.”
Bethany: *smacks me*
As the oldest of five children, I’m used to doing things first. People meet me first. I get involved in activities first. It is part of who I am. When my siblings come, they are “Amy’s siblings.”
The older I get, however, the less this is the case. Nowhere is this more apparent than where my family goes to church. All my family is super involved and my Mom works there. Maybe I am now better known than the brother who lives an hour and a half away. But for the most part, I’m Anna/Bethany/Elijah’s older sister or the missing eldest daughter of my parents.
Today my Mom needed an extra volunteer so I filled in. It was entertaining. I look like my Mom; I don’t look that much like her. But people still did a double take when they saw me. Uncertain smiles, hesitant nods as if trying to place me.
One lady I’d never seen before exclaimed, “You look so much like your Mom! It threw me off.”
Another lady inquired after my Dad. My Dad? Or my grandpa? Who knows!
And so, though I go to church regularly when I’m home, I slip into my uncertain role as the Family Member No One Quite Knows.
My final days in Thailand left me feeling very loved by my church family.
It wasn’t necessarily anything specific…
Shopping, laughter, extra messages asking when I’m leaving or what my last days looked like.
But they made me feel loved and seen. I even got a shout out in church.
And though there isn’t a lot I would say I miss about Thailand, my church there is definitely one thing.
I cannot imagine the last few months without them. They became my family. ❤
As someone who grew up in the church, I consider myself pretty comfortable around the Lord’s Prayer. I’ve heard sermons about it. I’ve recited it countless times. Like many passages, I easily quote it without really thinking about it. But yesterday the pastor at the church I attend here in Bangkok made a few points about the Lord’s prayer that I never really heard before. One in particular stuck out.
For those less familiar with the passage, the prayer comes from Jesus in Matthew 6:9-13 when he instructed his disciplines on prayer:
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from the evil one.
The phrase that really popped out to me from my pastor’s preaching was the “your kingdom come” part. Previously when I heard those words, I assumed they only meant something along the lines of, “Come back faster, Jesus!”
But my Pastor pointed out that God’s kingdom resides in us through the Holy Spirit. Thus, “your kingdom come” is also a call to action. God, your kingdom come. Send your people. Be moving and working in us!
In fact, the broader sermon discussed how the Lord’s Prayer goes hand in hand with the Armor of God. I don’t think I can do adequate justice to the subject, but it really got me thinking because the Armor of God is another part of the Bible I easily glaze by. But if we’re truly asking God to send us, we should be armoring up!
Especially lately, I often feel like my frustrations with Thailand keep snowballing into bigger and bigger drama where I just throw up my hands up in exasperation and count the days till I get to go home. But you know, there is one area where I have no frustration and only gratitude. One area I probably don’t talk about enough on this blog: my church family.
I am so grateful for my spiritual family at Calvary Baptist Church in Bangkok. They’ve been my strength, support, and encouragement this semester. From opening my eyes to the plights of the countless refugees in Thailand to filling my Wednesday night with laughter and fellowship, this church has served as a rock in an often stormy and confusing environment.
I’m often inclined to make sweeping statements like, “I only have 3 friends in Bangkok.” Which is true if I look at the students I connected with at school. But if you look at the people I see every Sunday and Wednesday, the people I talk and laugh and eat with, the people who get me out of my apartment and out of my head, I must have easily 3 dozen friends!
I have friends from the Philippines, from Vietnam, from China, from Japan, from Australia. Friends from the U.S. and, yes, even from Thailand! I am so blessed to have had these last three months with them. I will miss their fellowship more than anything when I leave.
It is easy for me to focus on the negatives: a taxi driver who ripped me off, a class presentation gone wrong, the perpetual stink of sewer in the air. But woven throughout my experience this semester, God’s love came pouring out through His church. I cannot imagine this experience out them. And I cannot wait for the day when every tongue, every tribe, and every nation will gather and we will experience even better fellowship for all eternity.