Last night I went to church not knowing what to expect. You never know what to expect with the Holy Spirit. Whenever two or three are gathered together in Christ’s name — WATCH OUT. Something is bound to happen. Last night in the midst of a service performed every Sunday night at the same time, in the same place, with essentially the same people, a miracle broke out. A miracle of understanding and compassion.
About four years ago, I began attending the Columbus Reformed Presbyterian Church (CRPC). I was immediately drawn to the Psalm singing. Each of the 150 Psalms are set to simple (and often familiar) tunes and a song leader directs us through them acappella. The service was thoroughly steeped in Scripture, including a sermon that was well researched and thoughtfully presented. The prayers were heart-felt, not so emotional as to be manipulative.
As I was leaving the sanctuary that first Sunday, a man about my age came up to welcome me. He no doubt detected my skittishness about being in a new setting. But he didn’t let this stifle his hospitality. He invited me over to his home that week for a “Grub-In,” a group for food and fellowship. I went I immediately felt welcomed, like I’ve found an adoptive spiritual family.
Not long after this, I began to attend the Men’s Prayer Group. We met early Saturday mornings to study Scripture and lift up to God joyful praises and deep concerns. These men became my brothers in Christ. It’s been four years now and I still rely on their prayers for abundant life.
One Sunday, during worship, I took vows of faithfulness to Christ and his body and was welcomed into this fellowship of believers as a member. It was an ordinary service that was made extraordinary by the work of the Holy Spirit within it.
Over the last four years, the Spirit has moved at CRPC through good times and bad. The Psalms are still beautifully sung. The service is still faithfully ordered by Scripture. The sermons are still vehicles for the Bible to come to life in our world today. Fellowship still ties us together. Prayer lifts our spirits.
Our evening worship of late has featured dialogue about the morning message. Last night, we talked about depression. How can we faithfully respond to someone who is depressed? What does the Bible say? How do we best offer the hope of Christ.
We spoke the truth in the Spirit of love. Depression is a reality. Some have chronic depression that require professional intervention (a gift from God). Others have situational depression that can largely be relieve by prayerful support. In all instances, we are called as people of God, brothers and sisters in Christ to “bear one another’s burden,” to show compassion without judgement, and to trust that in God’s own time, things will get better. It may not be in this life, but it will happen. One day, God will turn our tears to laughter. There will be no depression in heaven.
I am so grateful to be part of a faith family who is prayerful and careful not to settle for easy answers gleaned from proof texts of Scripture or popular social rhetoric. I’m tearing up as I write this, with tears of joy. A joy I can feel even when I am depressed. A joy that is rooted in faith. A joy that never ends.