Friday, August 26, 2011
Cataract Flowing Extempore
It turned out that Craig Randall was expected to take the first Sunday service following his visit with Crosspoint Community Church. Todd and Suzie Bushnell had long planned a holiday trip to Cape Cod and Craig would just have to flow into the next two weeks. He remained charged up from his fill-in assignment for Keith and Beth. But there was something causing an edge now as he took the pulpit for Calvary Temple. He put his notes down on the lectern and lowered his head:
"Tabbara mas cummi thabatha sin doromannna sic bianti mas coomah." Quietly and to himself that prayer in the Spirit had been offered. Craig in all honesty did not know how to pray here; neither did he know in himself what to say next.
"Good morning friends. It is good to be here with you again and to open up together some of God's truth. Turn with me please to John's Gospel chapter six."
Craig noted that many did not have Bibles with them, but he had resolved that there would be no use of the overhead screen today. He had the King James Version in front of him and began with verse 44. "No man can come to me except the Father which hath sent me draw him; and I will raise him up at the last day." He went on with the rest of the chapter (a very long portion it seemed for this group). He paused and looked for about ten seconds at the congregation before reading the following:
63It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.
64But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him.
65And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father.
66From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.
67Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away?
68Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.
69And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.
Another pause. Craig went into prayer aloud. "Father we confess that we have little time for you. We have carved lives for ourselves which seem altogether too important. We have robbed you of opportunities to do as you have wanted with us. We come together and acknowledge that Jesus is the Living Bread, but then we play with other diets, and take in that which poisons. There is too much of the world in us. There seems to be a great divide in our lives between Sunday and the rest of the week. What we do. How we speak. What occupies our thoughts.
As in the chapter just read, we have gone away from you. We will not pay the price of being peculiar people before this dark world. We lean on the news, commonplace thinking, and fail to lean on your Spirit. Our eyes are being continually darkened, but we do not even realize the declension.
Lord, break us. Show us that our grasp of your revelation is still pitifully small. Let us smell the aroma of your pastures yet untraveled. Let us see the smiles of the newly redeemed. Make us ashamed. Make us hungry. Tear up our agendas. Make us living epistles. We are simply your property. Come in your majesty and in your purpose to re-make and revive these vessels of clay..."
The prayer went on for another ten minutes. The people were both irritated and spell-bound. They had never heard Craig in this fashion (although a couple of the elders had had talks with him after meetings). They had never been together in prayer this long. Then it was over and silence followed for a full minute. This was something entirely different.
A woman's crying could be heard over in the mid-left of the Body. It started softly and progressed to groanings. Then a word of prophecy: "People take heed to the burdens of my son. He speaks my displeasure. He also speaks my plan, and the light which is coming to you in a very few days. Not because of anything you have done. Not because you are exceptional in this City. But rather because I will have it so, that I might receive glory in this place. The hour is late. Prepare to see my love and my outpour. Repent, that the door might open."
Necks were craning that the speaker might be identified. It was Martha, a quiet widow in her early seventies. Not known to be out-spoken. Simply attentive, willing to volunteer, reverent when appropriate and softly smiling.
Craig spoke again. "By now you have guessed that there is no sermon this morning. Apparently we have given place to the Master. He indicates that He is about ready to act. Will we repent of our dreadful mixture? The front of the sanctuary is now open. Come forward for prayer and for washing. Let this be the start of something extraordinary between you and Jesus.
Now friends, who is ready?"
A couple of university students were the first...and it didn't stop.