Pastor Mark’s eNote – Normal

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      Outside our office door right now, 420 kids are raising a ruckus. It’s a good ruckus, mind you, but a ruckus nonetheless, and a loud one (Is there such a thing as a quiet ruckus?). It’s Camp Winshape week here, and that means things are exciting and crazy and fun. It also means the hallways have taken on an aroma that carries me back to my elementary-school gym class. Ah, memories!
     Like Vacation Bible School last month, this week is gloriously, beautifully out of the ordinary, although I suppose it could be argued that around here these days the extraordinary IS ordinary (perhaps a philosophical discussion best saved for a late night at Waffle House). If you look back over the past few months, it seems that every week, every Sunday, has brought some special celebration or recognition. From Confirmation to Baccalaureates to graduate recognition to Memorial Day to Jonathan’s last sermon and farewell to Natalee’s arrival to Independence Day (and another unusual moment: Jason preaching my sermon), every Sunday has included something out of the ordinary.
     But not this Sunday. Looking over the services for July 16, the word that comes to mind is “normal.”
     “Normal”: That means our three services will include nothing special or out of the ordinary. There will be the usual Holy Communion at 8:00, the band in all its glory at 9:15, and our choir sharing beautiful music at 11:00. Our theme of “Good News!” will continue with words from Romans 3 and a sermon that, let us pray, offers, well, good news. Normal.
     Come to one of our worship services Sunday, and you’ll find people just like you—people who NEED some Good News, people who are stepping aside from the normal pattern of the week for the normal pattern of worship, people who are looking for home, looking for purpose, looking for a word from God. There’s nothing unusual in that. This is the stuff of normal worship.
     And as you sit there with those people just like you (though they might not look like you), there’s a chance you’ll grow bored or find yourself distracted by thoughts of other stuff. Normal. Don’t worry. At the same time, however, don’t be surprised if, in the midst of the music or prayers, the Holy Spirit startles your soul to wakefulness, or if the words preached seem addressed directly to your life, or suddenly you sense a deep and holy connection with the people beside, behind, and in front of you. No reason to worry. It’s all normal. It’s what happens when we gather in worship.
     So, I hope to see you this Sunday at 8, 9:15, or 11. Nothing special is on the agenda, just the usual encounter with the overwhelming, transforming, saving, miraculous, ever-present, ever-surprising, eternal power of God. In other words, the normal stuff of worship.


                                                                                                                                                In Christ,
                                                                                                                                                Mark Westmoreland
Author: Mark Westmoreland

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