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Back Pew Ministry:

She slipped into the back pew when the service had already started. Im sure she didnt want anyone to notice; but I couldnt help but be drawn to her. As the first hymn started, I slid into the pew next to her and quietly offered her a smile. My back pew ministry had begun.

Scriptural Context:
Matthew 11:28-30

(you can click on the links to read the full passages)

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. 2 Corinthians 1:3-7 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. Philippians 4:5-7 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Be still and know that I am God. To me, thats the best way to capture the essence of the quiet peace that descends as a worship service is just about to start. The cheery greetings, the warm hugs and handshakes, the chatter as we catch up with each other, all settle as the prelude music beckons us to prepare our hearts and minds for worship, and as the Pastors soothing voice invites us to enter into a place of peace and reverence, of closeness to our God, and to engage with the Holy Spirits presence. Its when we know and when we feel that God is in this place that we innately connect through praise and worship. And it is often in those quiet few moments as the service begins that someone slips in silently, often alone, and slides discretely into the back pew. Their discretion may seem like it is coming from a place where they feel late and do not want to disturb everyone else; but more often than not, their discretion comes from a place of not wanting to be seen at all. In their present state of some inner distress, they are seeking that peace and stillness, that innate connection: to quell fear, to heal brokenness, to dispel

anger, to know that theres a point, or to feel that they can worship again. They want to feel that closeness to their God. In those quiet few moments, the Spirit prompts to sit quietly beside them, offer a gentle welcome, be a healing presence, worship with them in a humble manner, and pray for the warmth of the Spirits presence to envelope them, and the healing hand of God to touch their hearts. While there is a place and time for joyful, noisy worship the kind expressed in Psalm 150, with tambourine and dancing, strings and trumpet and resounding cymbals there is also a time for quiet submission, peaceful presence, humility and of giving oneself completely to someone else, to be there for just their present needs. This gift of service, of listening with your heart, and responding with Christs love, creates the embrace of healing that can touch the hurting soul. The one who wants to be invisible cries out to be included in that healing presence; and that is perhaps the greatest gift, the greatest act of worship, we can offer.

Message in Music:
Healing Hand of God, by Jeremy Camp (full lyrics available here) I have seen the many faces of fear and pain. I have watched the tears fall plenty from heart ache and strain. If life's journey has you weary and afraid, there's rest in the shadow of his wings. I have seen the healing hand of God, reaching out and mending broken hearts. Taste and see the fullness of His peace, and hold on to what's being held out: the healing hand of God. Cast all your cares on Him for He cares for you. He's near to the broken and confused. By His stripes our spirit is renewed; so enter in the joy prepared for you.

(Click on picture to take you to the youtube link.)

Better than a Hallelujah, by Amy Grant (full lyrics available here)

God loves a lullaby in a mother's tears in the dead of night Better than a Hallelujah sometimes. God loves the drunkard's cry, the soldier's plea not to let him die Better than a Hallelujah sometimes. We pour out our miseries. God just hears a melody. Beautiful, the mess we are. The honest cries of breaking hearts are better than a Hallelujah.

(Click on picture to take you to the youtube link.)

Posted as part of the blog somethingshappeninghere.wordpress.com/2013/03/08/back-pew-ministry