In the Presence

In the Presence

At times you just know that you are in the presence of God; no proof, mind you, just a feeling like no other. Sometimes I get it when I listen to music: like on the Kentucky Men’s Chorus CD in my car with “Lord, Listen to Your Children”, or the hymn “This Is My Song”, or when the choir sings on Sundays. Sometimes I get the feeling when it’s late at night and I’m alone in the church when the roof of the sanctuary begins to pop and crack as it cools down after a hot day. I feel it when the worship leader has, for me, an unanticipated moment of revelation in their offering sentences. You cannot not feel it every time a person joins the church. Sitting on the porch at the beach, watching the sun rise (or set) and listening to the methodical crashing of the waves against the shore is such a moment. This past Friday evening as I sat in the sanctuary listening to three brave women tell their stories and hearing the talented musicians from Northern Indiana perform, I knew the presence of God surrounded me and everyone else in the room.

The choir lived up to their advance billing as a diverse group of faithful people sharing their stories through music while providing a place and time for understanding. An autistic woman, a refugee seeking asylum and a transgendered woman each talked about how they not always understood or perceived as who they are. I could feel their pain and I could feel their confidence in who they are. I heard their plea for the world to see them, to listen to them and accept them. To be honest, I shed some tears along the way. The Ripple Effect choir achieved its purpose, “If You Knew Me, You’d Love Me” without a doubt.

As a side note, Maha, our contact person with Kentucky Refugee Ministries, was one of the three women who spoke. After the concert, she came up to me and said that she felt like this was home. Imagine that, a Christian community of faith feeling like home to a Syrian refugee. There was that feeling of God’s presence in this place bringing us together and calling us to be the open arms of unconditional love for the world around us and the hands and feet of ministry to all. Then, to see Peter Beny in worship on Sunday, safely returned from a visit home to see his ailing father in the southern Sudan, well, there was that feeling again.

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