On a cold and rainy Sunday morning, I drove down to Core Creek United Methodist Church for worship service. They are one of several churches in our Sound District, that still offer outdoor services. It will be a while before my number comes up for a vaccine and I am still being cautious not only for myself, but for those around me who I worry so much about right now. We don’t want to let our guards down when we are so close to the finish line!
When I left my house on Slocum Creek, there was just drizzle. As I drove down Hwy 101 toward the Carteret County line, the rain was coming down sideways. I almost turned around to go back home. Who would possibly be doing an outside service in the pouring rain, with wind howling, and not to mention… just plain COLD temperatures? God took care of me though and kept me on my path.
Pulling in to one of the few parking spots left, it became quite clear that the members of Core Creek UMC would not let ANYTHING keep them from having church! Before I could unbuckle my seatbelt, a nice man with only his eyes visible between the rain gear and face mask, greeted me with a plastic zip lock bag. Inside the bag was a bulletin, the items I would need for communion, and even a message for later in the week.
The stage area used for the service, was covered on the top and on three sides providing some shelter from the elements. Through the pouring rain, I could see the members of the worship team all bundled up and smiling as they sang as if there was not a cloud in the sky. My car heater kept me warm as I tuned to the radio station broadcasting the service and I sat back to look through the bulletin. To my left was an elderly couple. The woman was in the driver’s seat and the gentleman was snuggled in a blanket as he sang along with the worship leaders.
As the service progressed, when the crowd got excited or the Pastor said something that deserved an “AMEN’, car horns honked in unison. I have quite honestly never seen anything like it! When most people would have stayed in their warm beds and watched the service online, this parking lot was FULL of people who didn’t seem to have a clue that it was freezing cold and the rain was pouring down on them. They were giving new meaning to the term, “Praise You in The Storm.”
The bulletin was full of hope. There were events safely planned in the near future. There was a trip to the Holy Land being planned for 2022. There were opportunities for online Bible Studies…there was evidence of a living God in their midst. I chuckled out loud and then smiled with absolute admiration when I saw the note for visitors. It said how happy they were to have us, but to please support our home church financially because “We are all in this together.” I almost honked my own horn a few times. It made me feel welcome in every sense of the word.
In case you were wondering about prayer requests in the pouring rain, the Pastor had his cell phone in the bulletin for everyone to text prayer requests. When the time came, he pulled out his phone and read them out loud so we could lift everyone in prayer. Each time something would happen and I would think to myself how amazing it was to see God working in this place, something else would take me to a new level of complete gratitude.
After the service as we circled the drive to exit, the Pastor and worship team were standing there waving and smiling at everyone as we left. If they were cold, it didn’t show. If their spirits were dampened by the pouring rain, you could not tell. The same man who welcomed me was standing there with the offering bucket in the pouring rain. He was waving too and thanking everyone for coming out to worship. I shook my head in disbelief. I thought to myself if rain makes these people this full of the spirit of God, let it rain! We all need some of this!
How many times have we let hurdles keep us from our destination? How many times have we chosen comfort over stepping out on faith? This congregation has clearly made up their mind that nothing is going to keep them from praising God. Nothing… not a pandemic, not freezing temperatures, or pouring rain… will separate them from God and each other. Every challenge seems to be met with a simple, “We’ve got this God.”
I am going to challenge myself and I challenge all of you, to meet life like Core Creek. Praise through the pandemic. Praise through the cold. Praise through the rain. Keep showing up for God and for each other. If that kind of commitment and faith is what happens when it rains… Let it Rain!
“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through the fire you shall not be burned, and the flames shall not consume you” Isaiah 43:2
If you would like to view past editions of A Message from Kim, follow this link: https://sounddistrictnc.org/category/from-district-lay-leader/
If you would like to connect with Kim please do so through her email, firstname.lastname@example.org