Continued from Sharing the Life that Matters
A Most Blessed Worship Service
The two thousand seats in the circular sanctuary of Bethel Evangelical Church (B.E.C.) nearly filled to capacity that Sunday morning, nearly every seat. Was it because it was nearing the fall of the year and people were readying their hearts for the "holiday" season? Or was the church, at last, waking up more to the idea that "people do indeed need the Lord?" thus recognizing their role as Light bearers. Whatever, with the welcoming greetings, a good number of hands went up at the call for those attending there for the first time, possibly setting a record of visitors for sure that Sunday.
Jessi, standing up front as a part of the worship team this Sunday morning, beamed brightly looking out over the mass number of worshipers; her parents with Thomas-John, his parents, and younger sister, were seated near the front. Catching Thomas-John's smile an affectionate wink, she threw one of her own back at him, they both were caught up in Elohim's love for themselves and now their love for each other by the grace of Elohim.
Sarah Whitcombe nudged her husband to look toward their daughter, how radiant she appeared! Out of the corner of her eye, Mrs. Whitcombe caught Thomas-John's affectionate stare at Jessi and her daughter's stare back at him. What's up with them, she thought, I'm sure it must be something good. Perhaps we'll learn what it is at dinner this afternoon.
Even with such a large number of people in attendance, Jessi noticed some familiar faces in particular of those sitting near the front. She recognized several women from that Woman's Club before whom she had the opportunity to speak, sharing with them her life story, her faith. She was very pleased to see Emily in attendance with her husband, and those adorable twins – Justin and Jessica – seated in the left section of the sanctuary.
Then she noticed the girl whom she met in her dad's bookstore/cafe seated not far behind Jessi's parents. There was also Tricia of course, and Carol not far back. Ah, how Carol's new life with Jesus radiated all about her countenance. She was really blossoming for Him since that day they first met at Fireside Grill.
She then glanced toward the right section of the sanctuary. Ah, to her amazement, there was the waitress she and Thomas-John met at Pancake House where they enjoyed their unofficial engagement breakfast. Just then she thought of Alex, recalling, as Thomas-John had shared with her his sharing with Alex at the Sports Center, sharing that two worlds idea.
Surely it was a Providential meeting, no accident, when Alex had taken that walk shaking off his tremendous financial loss, and then finding that Sports Center where he met with Thomas-John. Would he ever "come around" spiritually to recognize the real-life so many have found and is finding in Jesus – their "surer foundation, "surer than what the mortal world has to offer, was her thought. As the congregation rose to sing, lead by the worship team, Jessi lifted Alex up in her heart before her Almighty Elohim who alone is able to "bring him around."
The worship leader then led the congregation in a responsive reading focused on the person of the Christ (Messiah). Then, for the offertory, the worship team sang that familiar hymn, I'd Rather Have Jesus; the first verse is sung as a solo by Jessi. The worship team joined her on the refrain and the next verses, and then the congregation stood and joined them on that last verse, the passing of the offering plates being completed.
As they were singing, Tricia noticed a familiar face across the aisle. Nudging Carol, she pointed in his direction. A broad smile spread over her face; Alex had come to church. A breakthrough, she thought. Surely, this could be the start of something good for him.
A Sending off Celebration
A brief pause, as usual, followed the worship part of the service for some quiet meditation. Pastor Jacobs, Jr., then rose to the pulpit to present his sermon of challenge and encouragement. "Good morning to you all on this fine Sunday here in Mid-Central. As the psalmist has written, 'this is the day the LORD has made, therefore let us rejoice and be glad in it,' Psalm 118:24. We've been doing just that ever so well through our singing this morning.
"Let me reiterate again that soon many of our young men and women will be headed off to their various colleges and universities to continue, or some to begin their respective field study." Jessi, now seated in her place with the congregation, grasp Thomas-John's hand, knowing that what the pastor had just said included Thomas-John, her intended. He would also be headed off to begin Bible College soon. "We'll have a special time for them of recognition and prayer," the pastor continued, "this evening. Be sure to join us for that special time then.
"Now, let's look into the word together as to what the LORD has for us this morning. Please rise for the reading of Elohim 's Word and turn in your Bibles to the Old Testament book of Isaiah, chapter six."
Jessi was astonished, as in turning in her Bible she recalled that nightmarish dream that took her through the course of world and biblical history. What the pastor was about to read had come alive to her very vividly then. In Isaiah chapter six, as she penned in her journal, she recalled Isaiah's vision of Elohim 's holiness and his own sinfulness, and then Elohim 's cleansing of his sin.
As Elohim had commissioned Isaiah, so Jessi was refreshed in her own heart her call from Elohim as well. She knew as Elohim 's child, she was called to be one of those vibrant light bearers of Elohim 's truth, witnessing her faith as she has been doing with every opportunity Elohim had sent her way. Perhaps now, though she was sensing a special call on her life to be fulfilled alongside Thomas-John. She grasps his hand as the pastor spoke, Thomas-John turning toward her with an affectionate smile.
A Quick Departure
Nearing the end of his message, Pastor Jacobs, Jr., previewed what was to come in the next weeks as the Christmas season was drawing near. "As we're nearing Advent once again, I will be presenting to you a prophecy of the coming of the Christ (Messiah), as found here in these next chapters of Isaiah, in preparation for that time of year. We need to be ready and alert to say 'Merry Christmas' to the world," he said, emphasizing Christ in the word Christmas.
"We need to be alert as the enemy is lurking about to try to stop our message from getting through any way he can. We can't let him do that, as ours is a message of life eternally. He, that evil one, is out to destroy all humanity with himself in the everlasting darkness and torment. Elohim 's salvation is for the whole of humanity, made effective to those who believe. Only that evil one with his angels is to be destroyed in that darkness…."
At the dismissal of the service that Sunday morning, Jessi was eager to greet Alex. Carol and Tricia, too, moved toward where he was sitting only to find him already gone from there they soon discovered. He apparently had slipped out before anyone could get to him. Thomas-John, looking up and around thought he saw him pushing his way through the mass of worshipers, shrouded by a dark glow.
"There he goes," he said to the girls. "I believe that's him. For him being here, anyway, at least perhaps it's a 'sign' of God working in his life." The girls nodded, sighing deeply.
The Long Awaited Announcement
That afternoon warmed up nicely under the Mid-Central's sun, perhaps in the mid-sixties. Pastor Jacobs, Jr., and his family joined the Melleson family at the Whitcombe's home for dinner. Thomas-John and Jessi had asked the pastor to join them; they wished his presence to hear their announcement.
Thomas-John had asked Jessi's dad for permission to do so, as well as for his daughter's hand in marriage. "You want only her hand?" D.L. asked jokingly, knowing all along what he meant. Mr. Whitcombe was never more pleased to give his "little bundle of joy" to Thomas-John in marriage, figuring he would be doing that eventually someday.
Upon hearing the announcement of the couple's engagement, the pastor was thrilled, as well as everybody else in attendance there. "Why am I not surprised?" the pastor remarked. "Jessi, I watched you grow up both physically and spiritually. I was just a kid myself of, umm, I guess my mid-teens, when during that time at Grammy O'Brien's home your friend Timothy asked my dad about the real meaning of Christmas. Do you remember? You were only eight then. I believe."
"Yes, of course," Jessi answered, "I certainly do."
"And here it is, interestingly so, approaching that time of year again, these many years later. You have grown into a lovely young woman," the pastor commented.
"She still is our 'little bundle of joy,'" D.L. Whitcombe gleamed.
"Daddy," Jessi simply remarked.
"She certainly is the joy of my heart," Thomas-John added, with his arm affectionately around her.
The pastor continued, "I have the pleasure of being a witness to this day. You were sickly then, none of us sure if you would live to see this day...."
"But I did, Pastor," Jessi interrupted, not desiring to recall that part of her past, yet always remembering her childhood friend Timothy. Now Elohim is about to do a new thing in her life, to the pleasing of everybody, and to the pleasing of that best childhood friend of hers, she was sure. She was also sure he approved of her new friend she now has in Thomas-John.
"It's amazing how Elohim works, isn't it Jessi?" the pastor asked.
"Surprisingly so," Jessi responded, "and miraculously..." Everybody nodded in agreement.
The pastor then asked, "What's in store for you next?"
"For us next," Jessi said, turning toward Thomas-John. "Only Elohim knows. But my plan, believing they're His as well, is to join Thomas-John in Bible College the next semester.
Yet, that Evil One continued with his evil scheme, plotting her demise.
© 2018 Charles O Newcombe