Ed. Note: This first worship journey story is from Jim Drake. Jim has been a worship pastor for 24 years serving Southern Baptist churches in Texas and Arkansas. He most recently served as Worship Pastor at FBC Snyder and is now pursuing other ministry opportunities. He regularly blogs at JimDrake.Me where he discusses Life, Leadership, Creativity and the Church.
Have you ever heard this word: Cairn?
Cairn is an old Irish/Scottish term for a pile of rocks left on a hike or a journey. It’s meant to guide those coming behind to warn them of a drop in elevation, or particular vista that a hiker enjoyed. It’s meant to point the way.
I’m so glad that Chris asked me to write about the markers in my life of worship. As I look back there are several, but as I looked back at them, most of them revolve around one particular act of worship that has come to mean much in my life. Communion.
Three significant communion experiences in my life have propelled me in this journey of worship.
I grew up in a typical Southern Baptist Church where we always and forever passed the plate and picked up the juice. That to me was communion.
It included a covered table and a sense of sadness over the death of Jesus. I never knew that communion could be a celebration.
Three experiences changed my worship experience through communion.
Communion Is Community
In 1999, I led a group of students in communion at youth camp that forever changed my view of communion.
We offered the communion to the students at the end of the week, and after everyone had COME TO THE TABLE (they had to come and receive communion) we opened the table up to share communion among each other.
Friends brought friends to the table and offered the elements to each other. Then Fathers brought sons and mothers brought daughters. It was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. I even snapped a picture of it and have it in my office.
It went on for an hour and a half.
I sat to the side and just watch the mystery of the Holy spirit work in and among the students.
That is Cairn #1
Communion Is Connection
You’ll never experience a more powerful worship time than when you serve communion. It is an honor to do such, and it’s even more powerful when you serve those that you love.
During my tenure at a former church I had gone through several experiences with families; divorce, death, tragedy, triumph, joy, pain, heartache, sorrow and more. All of these are inherent in ministry.
However one of my last experiences at that church was presiding over communion where I called each person by name as they came to receive the bread.
As I called their name and placed the bread in their hands, a powerful sense of God’s presence and peace was there. As usual, I became choked up and there ensued a sweet time of connection with those in my congregation.
I will never forget that time
That is Cairn #2
Communion Is Catharsis
My last Cairn in communion happened in 2009 at the RECREATE CONFERENCE and was a culmination of several worship experiences that week. Communion was a catharsis (a purging) for me that day.
I’ve always loved the Liturgy of Communion found in the Book of Common Prayer (Walk To Emmaus taught me that) but that connection deepened during the loss of my mom in 2004 and I found myself in a hospital chapel on Christmas Eve receiving communion and reciting those familiar words of the liturgy.
During the 2009 experience Ian Morgan Cron led us through the liturgy and although I knew it, several in the room were new to the form.
I experienced anew a fresh pouring of the Holy Spirit as I received the communion elements and expressed worship through kneeling and crawling to the altar to receive the juice.
That experience lasted about an hour and a half too.
That was Cairn #3
It’s amazing to me that I can look back through my journey of worship and see that something as simple as communion has come to mean so much in my life. Something that I had taken for granted has become one of the cornerstones of my worship experience and one that I run to in time of need in my life.
Have you ever experienced this?
Come back tomorrow to hear about the worship journey of Dan Wilt.