Yesterday was a real roller coaster of a Sunday. On the programme it seemed a straightforward Harvest Sunday. It seems God had other ideas.
In the morning we continued our series on The Hope of Heaven looking at Revelation 21 and the picture that it paints of heaven. It includes the famous verses about being a place of no tears, no suffering, no death, no more pain.
Afterwards I talk to a visitor to our church, one who I think I recognise but I'm not sure. Turns out he was visiting us and he had been with us last May. He reminds me that he was with his wife who was returning to fitness after a liver transplant. To cut a long story short his wife passed away a few days after they visited us in May and then two months later he lost his father too. He talked about how it felt that I was speaking just to him as I spoke from Rev 21. Of course it was not me, only God can do this. It reminded me what a privilege it is to hear God through the words of the Bible and to be used to help people hear that.
Rev 21 also points out in the last verse that nothing impure can enter heaven. Which is only bad news if you have ever done, said or thought anything bad! So we talked about Jesus - as the only truly pure person - had paid the price for our impurity and how you can have your name in the book of life. I talked about how it's not enough to know this stuff, you have to make a personal commitment. And I did something I rarely ever do. I asked people to consider their response to the invitation that God makes, close their eyes and raise a hand if they wanted to make that commitment.
I felt that I was a bit unclear as I hadn't really scripted it but I lead a prayer and five hands went up. Two are people who have started coming to the church having come to our Holiday Club for over 60s (pre-blog!). They are down to start the Christianity Explored course tomorrow and are as thrilled as we are. One was a lady in her 80s who has been in church all her life but says that while she understood the gospel message she had never responded to it in a personal way before. Hers is a long story but, again, it's exciting that she took this step. The fourth hand belonged to the visitor mentioned above who, having been through such a tough time, wanted to respond to what God was saying to him in the service. And the fifth was a man in his nineties who misunderstood what I was saying. Told you I was unclear.
But, me of little faith, I was taken aback. It is exciting to see what God is doing and we pray that these are the first fruits. Seems he did some harvesting this morning.
Afternoon spent visiting someone in hospital in Taunton, on to Evening Service which I led and preached in and then I went to visit a man who is on the edge of death. I was pleased to go to see him as I got there just before the nurses who came to administer his first dose of morphine, which was something the family were resisting unless it was absolutely necessary. I was able to hold his thin hand and pray for him. He hasn't long and the promises of Rev 21 are particularly pertinent at a time like this.
A long day. A good day. A long post but not everyday is like this and I wanted to process it as I typed. I am encouraged and hope you are too.