The majority of my early childhood church experience took place in the red brick, white steepled church located at the end of Main Street in my hometown. The First United Methodist Church and the folks therein—the preachers, the Sunday school teachers, my parents, adult parishioners, and many of my childhood friends—helped form some of my best memories. More than this, they helped me develop a style of worship that is, in part, Methodist in origin and, in part, an extension of time between God, His Word, and me.

The Doxology

A part of the Methodist experience (and perhaps other denominations within our faith as well) is the singing of the Doxology. I remember sitting between my parents—my shoulders touching their forearms—glancing from side to side as ushers passed brass collection plates; depositing them on one aisle and picking them up again at the next. As the plate passed, the mound of green opened dollar bills and folded checks mounted. I would clutch my dime—a tenth of what I earned weekly in those days— in the palm of my hand, ready and proud to drop it in with the rest of the tithes and offerings.

When the last of the collection had been taken, the four ushers stood two-and-two in the back. For a brief second, and in an air of anticipation, the room was silent. Completely silent. We held our breaths in wait until…

…DAAAA!! The organist pressed her fingertips against the keys of her beloved Hammond. I looked to the pastor of our moderate congregation. He was robed in black and as his arms raised in cue for us to stand and sing, he would bellow, “Praise God from whom all blessings flow….”

The singing of the Doxology had begun.

Filled to Overflowing

Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy…1 Peter 1:8

I recently came across this scripture. Not that I haven’t read it before, but this was one of those times when the words jumped out at me; the Holy Spirit demanded that I make a closer observation of what I was reading. I did a word search, breaking the verse down element by element.

Have you ever been told you would receive something only to find it unbelievable? Let’s say you checked all the appropriate boxes and filled in all the pertinent information for the Publisher’s Clearing House Sweepstakes. You didn’t order any magazines but you mailed in your name, address, and so forth. One morning you are sitting at the kitchen table reading your daily devotions and sipping on a cup of hot coffee or cocoa or tea. Suddenly the doorbell rings. You shuffle to the door, wondering who in their right might would come by at such an hour. The door opens and your mouth drops. A hand to the head to finger-comb the pillow hair into place and then you scream at the sight of strangers holding balloons and video cameras and an oversized check. “Oh, my!!!” You shout. “I can’t believe it! I’ve never won anything in my life!”

Well, so far you have won but you haven’t gotten anything. Weeks pass and you tell everyone you know about the big prize you’ll be getting. You are pretty excited, no doubt! Still, you don’t have any money in your pocket much less your bank account yet. But…you know its coming and you are jazzed.

Peter wrote to a group of people who, though they had never seen the Lord—as he had seen the Lord—they believed in Him, in what He would bring to them (salvation, see verse 9), and were filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy.