Worship in the Afternoon and Forgiveness in the Morning

Our afternoon worship session (4-6 PM) was the best attended, besides prime time.  Felicity was in the zone, having really gotten in touch with her vocalization and riffing.  But of course, it’s not about the music as much as it is about the heart.  Her heart was clearly worshiping God, and that is what bumped her vocal style to the next level (perhaps even a few levels).

Bethany has shown a real talent for the flags.  She is able to make them dance in some really beautiful ways.  I love the flags, but I’m not at all good at it, and I’ve never waved them without the stick hitting something.  I figured that I should probably stop now before I put someone’s eye out.

After the session, I was feeling very tired, and wanted nothing more than to return to the hotel and sleep—yes, this was at six in the evening.  We have done late night, early morning, wee hours, and so forth, so that now I just need to go rest when my body says so, no matter what the hour.  So I went to the cloak room to put on my jacket.  The others were behind me and they were invited to share Communion with a couple of German men.  I saw Felicity go to her knees, and I knew that this could be a while, so I walked back to the hotel alone.

The following day, we were upstairs in the church’s coffee shop.  Felicity told me that she needed to talk with me.  So we went into the prayer room, which was empty for the first time (no babies, no nursing mothers, no small children).  There she told me about the German men inviting them to share Communion.  She said that she immediately realized that she needed to repent.  She confessed that she had been holding anger and unforgiveness in her heart because of Europe’s involvement with the African slave trade (Felicity is African-American).  She poured out her heart about how much she hates when people want to touch her hair or ask her what African country she comes from—she doesn’t know because her ancestors were kidnapped and taken to America as slaves.

We wept together for both her pain and for the loss of her heritage and culture.  Felicity knows that these are innocent things not intended to wound her, but she can’t deny the pain they cause her.  Before she took Communion, she knelt to forgive the Europeans, and to ask God to forgive her.

In the next teaching session, when we were invited to share our experiences at Tabernacles, Felicity asked me if she should share her pain and to ask forgiveness.  I told her that if that’s what she wants to do, she should do it.  So she did.  And several people told her that they forgive her.  But some people have since acted differently around her, avoiding her, particularly the German girls because it had involved their friends.

At the end of the teaching session, they called forward all the young people (those 30 and under), and we prayed for them.  I came and prayed specifically for Felicity.  The Holy Spirit urged me to also repent and ask her forgiveness for my ancestors’ part in the slave trade because my people, though not rich landowners, had some slaves nevertheless.  I had never felt personally responsible for the slave trade because it was all over and done with long before I was born, and I have always treated Felicity with the same kindness and respect that I treat all my friends.  But sins curse lasts to the 4th generation, and it was right for me to repent and confess the sin so that its curse could be completely broken.  Felicity forgave without hesitation, and we wept in each other’s arms.  It was a very cleansing moment for me.  Later she told me that nobody had ever asked forgiveness for the slave trade before.  It was very hard, but I am really glad that I did it.  It was the right thing to do.

Our last session was 6-8 AM.  I woke up half an hour before the alarm, and began to pray.  One person God led me to pray for particularly was Felicity.  Then God gave me a word for her: Isaiah 41:10:

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous Right Hand.

And the Lord’s word to Felicity went something like this (I don’t remember it exactly):

I have felt every blow and every insult, whether intentional or not.  I know your pain, but I will take the pain away.  It is no accident that you are here.  You are here for your healing.  Receive your healing.  You are My beloved daughter.  You are loved.  You have value.

This prophecy came to me in the form of a song, and the Lord told me to sing this to Felicity—on the platform in the church.  I realized that this could be a very emotional moment for her, and I felt like it would be best if she knew that it was coming, rather than surprising her.  So we walked together to church while the others were still gathering themselves.  I told her about the word, without telling her what it is, and asked her when she wanted it: early in the session (when there are likely to be fewer people) or later in the session (when she won’t have to struggle with emotions and tears while trying to sing).  She told me she wanted it early, and asked me why I had to sing it.  I told her about how God had healed me to sing (see Dancing in My Dreams).  She said, “Oh, I get it!  Killing two birds with one song!”  Yeah, that’s exactly it!

So, the sanctuary wasn’t completely empty, but we warned the others about what was going to happen, and we proceeded.  Being first thing in the morning, and early morning at that, my voice was terrible.  But I sang anyway.  Felicity cried, but not a whole lot, and was able to go on with worship without any problems.  It was a nice worship session, nothing spectacular, but full of the right heart for God.  God is good!

A Dream Come True!

Greetings from Kalisz, Poland!

Today I arrived with five others from Italy, and tonight I will see my two year dream come true.  The past two years I have been coming to the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot) here in Kalisz.  The church here has 24 hour non-stop worship over the seven days of the feast.  In two-hour time slots throughout the day and night, they have worship led by groups from all over Europe: two hours in Polish, then two in English, then German, then French, then Russian, etc.  For two years, I have dreamed of bringing a worship team from Italy, and tonight they (we!) will bring worship for the first time in Italian.  Yes, I’m still somewhat shocked that I will be part of the worship team.  I’ll be singing as part of the chorus, and reading from the Bible in Italian.  I will probably also dance.

The feast will begin in about an hour and a half, with the host church’s worship team.  I am so excited!  I’m not only excited about having Italian worship here at last, but I also know from experience that God shows up for His feast—that’s right, in the Bible, God tells Moses how to celebrate His Feast of Tabernacles (Leviticus 23:34), and it is a lasting ordinance (verse 41).  But of course, we don’t celebrate because we have to.  We celebrate because we love God and we love to worship Him.  And with the right attitude, God shows up.

So, excuse me if this is short, but I’ve got to rest up because our session begins at 2 AM.  God is good!