Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Women at the Well Spring Conference taught me about praise and worship!

My husband and I took a road trip to the western part of our state where the rolling hills and flowering dogwoods and azaleas were a delicious treat to our eyes. Elizabeth asked me to perform the drama of the Samaritan woman at their first annual Spring Conference and I was delighted to accept the invitation. Even my husband was excited about traveling with me and accompanied me to the event...there were a few other men. Thank you Dale for befriending Ron!!

The pastor started off the event with a brief message (more like a prophetic word for the women attending) and it was followed with 40 minutes of praise and worship. It wasn't a live band but a power point with music and words in place...it showed me that what we truly need to worship are hearts ready and open to worship. I feel I have earned a right to talk about praise and worship since I have been on P&W teams in 3 different churches over the last 18 years. WOW! Eighteen years is a long time. I began under the leadership of a very capable music pastor who played the guitar along with a pianist and three singers for Sunday mornings and a full band on Sunday evenings. The congregation eagerly participated in worship with genuine hearts as did those in the small church where I was the leader of the P&W team. That was a stretch...a big stretch, but the pianist in that small church was a new member just like me and together we came with experience outside of old hymns and along with the new pastor who lead praise and worship in his former church, made up the first team. After a few months we had a drummer, 2 guitarist and a few singers that joined us. We made a joyful noise unto the Lord and the congregation responded to our meager efforts allowing the Holy Spirit to lead them to the altar. Now I am one of many singers on a team and we have a full band of wonderful musicians. Most of our church, I think, would say they enjoy our style of worship and are ushered into the presence of God.

At the Women at the Well event, Elizabeth brought a message that captivated the women the entire forty five minutes! In most churches it is stressed you loose people’s attention after twenty minutes. Not so when the message follows forty five minutes of worshipping the Lord and getting hearts ready to receive from the Holy Spirit. We seem to rush into church, rush into singing 4 songs (no more than 4), rush into the message and then ...do it all over for the second service. The music can be uplifting, the sermon can be convicting and encouraging and we can truly meet the Lord in those short services but I have seen what a difference not only at the WATW Spring Conference but also in others where the time spent before the sermon was praising God for who He is and asking the Holy Spirit to move among us. The difference is at the close of the service when people are flooding the altar for more of HIM...flooding the altar for prayer to be better followers of Jesus....flooding the altar with pure grateful hearts that want only to do the work He has created them to do.

During my Living Interpretation of the Samaritan Woman, the eyes I looked into were so soft and ready to hear about this woman's encounter with Jesus. They felt her pain and her joy. Is that because all of us have sins we do over and over and we know that it is only by the help of the Holy Spirit that we can overcome? It was such a beautiful sight when I opened my eyes after singing "Alabaster Box" to see women praying for each other with tears streaming down their faces yet with a glow about them that only come from the radiance of being in the presence of the Lord. Yes, it was a real blessing to be with this group of believers and one night I don't think I will ever forget!