Nothing compares to singing a victorious hymn ("Lift High the Cross," anyone?) with a pipe organ and 3,000 of my favorite United Methodists. I can still hear the sound of our voices, united in spirit, worshiping our amazing God.
This year at Annual Conference, I went to the Celebration of Life & Ministry service for the first time. A better name for it might be the Memorial, Retirement, Commissioning, and Ordination service…but that would make it sound as long as it is. It really is the service to end all services. And it really is as long as it sounds. But it’s also an incredible opportunity to come together, affirm the ministry of lots of wonderful people, and worship our faithful God. That service ended up being one of my favorite memories of Annual Conference this year!
This year, the Celebration of Life & Ministry service was a significant experience for me for a couple reasons. First, one of my “second moms” was ordained! She actually entered the candidacy process with my mom as her mentor when my mom was pregnant with me. I’m 19. So ordination was a long time coming! It was SO exciting to be there for her ordination! This year, I also had a new perspective on ordination, knowing that God has called me to ordained ministry in the UMC. Even though I am at the very beginning of this long journey, it was so exciting to see the end goal and feel God gently reaffirming my call.
Another worship service that was especially meaningful to me this year was the morning worship service on Thursday, which included the fixing of the appointments. All I could do was praise God as we and many others were given new churches, new homes, new opportunities, and new communities. One of my favorite moments of this year’s Annual Conference was singing “Here I Am, Lord” after the fixing of the appointments. It was a picture perfect moment- celebrating a new season in my family’s life, recommitting to God’s call on my life, and worshiping God surrounded by the people whose love and support has carried me to the place I stand today.
I think that’s what worship is meant to be.
I’m more convinced than ever that the best worship happens in the context of community. As I look back on the memories I just shared from Annual Conference, my most powerful worship experiences of were profoundly impacted by the people with whom they were shared. That’s because worship is a community thing.
It’s possible alone.
But it’s beautiful together.
“Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.” –Acts 2.46-47
Pray Peace. Make Peace. Live Peace.