Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "Ivory Palaces"1 (Lyrics)
James 5:13 – Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms. (KJV)
Psalm 19:7 – The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. (KJV)
The cruise director on a recent cruise doubled, or should I say tripled, as a comedian at night and conducted the non-denominational service on Sunday.
It was a smaller cruise line; the number of staff and passengers totalled almost 2,000. Of those, eleven of us, not even one per cent, attended the Sunday service in the vast theatre that we'd noticed in passing on several evenings had been packed to the rafters. I don't know how many may have attended the Jewish service on Friday night or the Roman Catholic mass earlier that Sunday morning.
We had not attended the comedy nights, but we'd had a taste of the director's humour on a couple of mornings while waiting to disembark for our on-shore excursions. And so, admittedly, I was intrigued as to how he'd conduct a worship service. I have to say that he did not disappoint.
Smiling, with the hint of full-on laughter in the twinkle of his eyes, he opened by telling the story of how religion hadn't been an equation in his life until the impending birth of his daughter. It was then that he'd had his aha moment, found a home church, and has been happy to share God's Word now for several years.
Knowing that music speaks to everyone, and not knowing to what denomination, if at all, any of us belonged, he chose two hymns that pretty much reach across most denominations: Amazing grace and How great Thou art. It was amazing the grace and greatness with which our small number sang. For his sermon, he read and expounded upon some of his favourite quotations of things small kids say about church which he'd received off the Internet some time before. We joined in a responsive reading and prayers, then prayed the Lord's Prayer together.
It was a feel-good sermon and service served up by a cruise-directing comedian whom I believe the Lord led to show his serious side by way of sharing His Word. The service offered the nowness of today with the familiarity and comfort of the hymns and prayers of the past.
Church attendance is down in the traditional denominations, even as they strive to meet the changing needs of today and the future, while still meeting the needs of those adhering to the comforts of the past. Churches are facing the reality that non-attenders have not necessarily pushed God out of their lives; there are numerous reasons why people choose not to attend church on a regular basis or not to be connected to one particular church or denomination.
God speaks to and reaches us in various ways, whether it be to spread His Word from the pulpit in church on a Sunday morning, through the many means of the media, by simply sharing with each other, or through something as unique as attending a service conducted by a cruise director comedian whose love of the Lord leads him also to feel called to share His Word. May we always be open to the ways in which we can hear what God has to say and respond to His call on our lives.
Prayer: Thank You, Lord, for the many ways in which You lead us to hear and share Your Word. Through You, we pray and give our thanks each day. Amen.