This was originally written while I was in church...
My life felt all out of sorts this morning. I was late getting to choir rehearsal, which was scheduled to start a few minutes earlier than usual because we were singing with a sound track. When I got there, I learned that Vivian, one of the choir members, was standing in to direct because our director was ill with a migraine--very ill as it turns out. Leta, who stands beside me, was not there. Someone came down from the second row, and I had to quickly show her the ropes in how to assist me in getting to and from choir room to sanctuary in order and what she did and did not need to do to cue me about what was going on in the music and the service. She was concerned about Loretta, and I had to help her understand that what I need most is generic verbal direction so that I can follow them. She was concerned that she might need to beat time for me since I couldn't see the director. I appreciated her willingness to try to help, and especially her willingness to learn and to trust that I knew what I needed. I don't want to lean too heavily on the same people all the time; but all the change at once sort of frayed me emotionally this early in the choir game. It's nobody's fault. I'm just still new to choir and learning my way around the routines--and the building! Flexibility is important, and flexibility has never been something I've been very good at.
It turned out that her being next to me was a tremendous blessing. As we were putting on our choir robes, she told me that she had learned that Dr. Stafford died last night in the middle of the night. "I didn't want you to get shocked with it," she said. I didn't know how much I would appreciate this. We came in during the beginning of the prayer, and Dr. Stafford's death had already been announced. I would have had to discern it by figuring out things, and the shock would have been very hard on me emotionally. The music was appropriate--perhaps ironically so. We sang, "There Is Joy in the Lord." This was really how Dr. Stafford lived his life, and singing that song brought back memories of him talking about the Church of God "singing our theology," him teaching and living joy through his pain, him singing in full voice. I'm glad that I had the chance to hear his singing voice. It made him a whole person to me. I'm glad that I had the chance to be a part of his classes when he was persevering through pain and illness. He was a model of ministry to me in an area where I need models. I am not terminally ill. I am chronically ill. There is a difference. But there is a similarity. God used a person with terminal illness to teach me how to handle my chronic illness in ministry. I hope that I can live my life with that much devotion, with that much perseverance, with that much sincerity. I hope that I can give that much to others.
I need a CD of today's service. I am not following the sermon well enough to write anything down. The main point I am taking away: God's name is not "I was." It is "I am." He started with a quote... The basic idea is that we must live in the present because we can do nothing about the past and God is doing everything about the future.