As a faith community we have created an environment we call “Upward Worship”. It has elements of food and fellowship, input and worship, reflection and mediation, prayer and ministry. People enter in at all different levels during the worship and reflection space and all ages are present.
I remember this one night when a young single mother came with her twin 12 month old babies. We had cushions and rugs all over the floor and while the worship was happening the children were playing up the front on the cushions. They would adventure to different spaces and at times they were hard to take your eyes off. They were so gorgeous. I wondered a few times if it was too distracting. I watched a few of our elderly and wondered if this would be a problem. The mother was so gentle with the children and had to rescue them a few times, but generally they we just being 12 month old babies and their innocent play was captivating, but not distracting if you didn't allow it.
A few weeks later, one of the elderly women in our community asked me if at next “Upward Worship” she could share a story. I was delighted and then she asked me the name of the mother with the young children. It was an unusual name and she kept forgetting it. I giggled and wondered what that was all about, but didn't think much of it.
So “Upward Worship” came around again and Ruth took the mic, sat on the edge of the stage and began to share.
I recorded this moment so I am going to use her words for the next few paragraphs. I don't want to miss a word of her wisdom.
She began to share… “how great it is to be in a church from young to old, and old to young”. She said she wanted to encourage us and began to talk about the mother and her two beautiful children. She stopped and began to cry as she tried to describe how beautiful they were. She continued on to say that the mother “was such a beautiful mother, she just let those little children investigate, and then rescued them if they needed it, gave them a cuddle when they needed that. It really touched my heart”. She continued … “One of them climbed up onto the stage and then wanted to get down and he came up and touched the pillow and realised it wasn’t secure, so he turned around and went down backwards…and I thought it was just so beautiful".
She was clearly enamoured by these children and after the worship had finished she went up to the young mother and told her she thought she was doing such a beautiful job with these children. How amazing it must have been for that young mum to hear those words of encouragement.
Ruth continued to share about … “how good is it that we can be in a group where we appreciate each other so much”.
So then she said … “I went home and in the early hours of the morning I believe the Lord gave me a picture. A beautiful picture of myself and my heavenly father. How He is allowing me to go out and discover new things, experience new things and if I trip He just picks me up and loves me and holds me. I want to say, those children ministered to me”.
She talked about the power of a smile. She said, “A friend and I were talking not long after that about the power of a smile, and how if we smile to each other, we can affect and minister to others. Isn't it amazing that God has created us with a muscle in our face that can effect someone’s heart”. (This was a statement of Gold to me)
“I had this beautiful thought that not only was my father looking after me in that lovely time I had with him that morning, but He was also smiling at me. I am not special. He does the same for all His children and I just wanted to encourage our hearts tonight to the reality of God with us, caring for us, watching over us, helping us when we get into trouble and go the wrong direction.”
She continued … “When I was bringing up my children I would have smacked them and said “get down”, but this mother was just so gentle and I think that is what struck me most. You are all very precious to Him. He loves you very much, and He is on your case, but with a smile”.
She asked if she could pray for us all and as we bowed our heads and closed our eyes, I could see her weeping, as she found it hard to get the words out. Her love for God often overflows in this way and as she prayed you could see the ways in which God overwhelms this beautiful woman. She prayed …
“I thank you God for the compassion that you
have for the youngest to the oldest.
That you have brought us together as a
community to share life together.
I thank you so much for your great heart of love for us.
We can never thank you enough.
I commit these precious people to you tonight, that they may know the deep reality of your powerful and gracious love. To be able to smile at you and to give us the awareness that you are not a Judge, but someone who loves us.”
She finished with a verse …Is 40:10-11
“The sovereign Lord comes with the power. The Sovereign Lord tends to his flock like a shepherd. He gathers His lambs in his arms and carries them close to His heart. He gently leads those that have young.”
Ruth was open and willing to be taught by the play of two innocent babes and a young mother’s love. God can use anything, if we have eyes and hearts that are open. When I consider all the things we could be doing as a “faith community”, it is moments like this that remind me that all He wants from us it to be together, to care and appreciate each other, to learn from each other and to honour Him with all that we have. Is there anything more wonderful than that?