First Sunday (Weekend)
That first weekend started on Wednesday evening as the bell choir gathered for a practice, followed by choir practice.
There was special music planned for my first Sunday, so I did not stay and listen, but I did get to meet Jean Sheets, the 89 year old mother of our choir director, Carol Graham. What a bundle of joy in her short frame.
The following day, as I was working on the details for Sunday, and about to go to my first committee meeting, I get a call from the family that Jean had died unexpectedly on Thursday morning.
In a moment, my first Sunday got more complicated. Our musicians would not be available, we added a service to Sunday afternoon, and we worked through all kinds of calendar issues to do what Miss Jean would have wanted.
This is when I discovered what a grace-filled church Rehobeth truly is. I saw folks turn out in droves on Saturday evening for visitation that was held at the church (which elegantly combines the old sanctuary from the 1800's with the new sanctuary). This was my first time to meet lots of folks from the community. People turned out to set-up, clean up and get ready for Sunday, and they did it with an uncommon ease.
Sunday morning started at 8:45 am, with the "casual service" which was not only casual, but worshipful. I preached to about 60 people who were eager to meet the new preacher in the middle of July. The later service was at 10:45 am, and there were another 125 more who came out for a more traditional service. They laughed through my mistakes, since their traditions were all new to me, and a bit different than my last congregation. And my sermon was well received.
Then we went down to the Family Life Center for a covered dish lunch that was best described as a heavenly banquet. They showed Southern hospitality to a group of folks who turned out in such numbers that more tables had to be placed. There was enough food for another meal when it was over. My son, who was in attendance, had never seen anything like it.
We finished in time to get ready for a 3:00 pm service for Jean Sheets, which was truly a celebration of life. Great hymns of the church were sung and played throughout. After singing "Victory in Jesus" as a congregation, I felt like I had been to a revival, not a funeral. We celebrated resurrection that day like it is meant to be.
The day was not over, Vacation Bible School began at 5:30 pm on Sunday evening. People who were in church all weekend were back to serve the children of the community. Volunteers were in abundance, a bunch of children showed up, the mood was joyous.
By the time I got home at 8:30 pm, I was tired. My feet were sore. My body was numb.
My heart was full.