I am happy this morning after a refreshing and different weekend off. My pastor gives me 8 Sundays off during the year, and this was one on which I did not do any gigs, but Beth and I took a day trip to Nashville, 125 miles up the road.
There was a large craft fair in Centennial Park, and we spent the afternoon there. Craft fairs are pleasant interactions with people like us-- entrepreneurs who have a talent in some artsy field like jewelry (there was lots of jewelry), fabric or clothing, glass work, or wood.
I look at the craftpeople and evaluate their outlook on life as I walk past. Some have an earthy, hippie look, others are biker types with black tight clothes and tattoos. Some appear to be like us-- conventional in appearance, but obviously committed to a lifestyle of art and independence. They have invested in tents, dispay materials, beautiful backdrops, and photos to make their products appealing. They have a passion for selling their work far more than I ever did when I was touring.
In the evening we checked into a nearby hotel-- it's always nice not to have to drive home late at night when you are tired-- and then went to City Church of East Nashville. This is a congregation in the Presbyterian Church in America that I have visited before, but it was a couple of years ago. Their band was top notch, and the group was mostly young adults. We were pleasantly surprised to see Brian Terpstra, whom I had recommended this church to, and we also saw a new friend named Chioma, whom we met last month at a music symposium at our church. She is in Nashville doing her physical therapy internship.
I had recommend this church to both these folks, and Brian especially has cast his lot with this church, joining a small group led by the house drummer, and he told me this congregation was a "confirmation" that God was leading him to Gallatin, TN and his new job in the Nashville area. For Chioma, it was her first Sunday there, but this church is a lot like her home church in St. Louis, New City Fellowship.
The message was on crime in the city and the Christian's response. After the message, the preacher opened the floor for Q and A. There followed maybe 30 minutes of interactive discussion in a congregation of maybe 125. People brought up all kinds of angles, including personal stories and dilemmas.
Another thing I appreciated, because of my walk with God right now, was a time of confession and assurance of pardon. This is a Presbyterian tradition that our church does not feel necessary, but as the one who plans our services, I was intrigued as a worshiper by the impact of this liturgical event.
Much the same as when one prays, the confession occurs early in the service, but after a praise song and call to worship. This church uses a printed prayer in the bulletin and a printed response, but a song could be used as the response, making the confession part of the music.
Thank God for times of refreshment in our journey. We come back to our same lives and concerns, but we see them differently on the other side of worship and and forgiveness.