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Simple Tears

I’ve attend church services weekly for twenty-four years, but I can count on one hand the number of times that I’ve cried during the service—the simple tears of a quiet girl tasting the palpable presence of God.

I’ve attend church services weekly for twenty-four years, but I can count on one hand the number of times that I’ve cried during the service—the simple tears of a quiet girl tasting the palpable presence of God.

Having been reared in a Christian family and attending church services my whole life, Sunday morning worship had grown comfortable and predictable, like a morning bowl of bran flakes.  It’s filling and will sustain me until lunch, but it’s not the flavorful breakfast that I’d order at Mimi’s Cafe if I had a chance.  No.  I’d choose something with more zest.  Something that would enliven my taste buds and purge the sleep from my eyes—perhaps orange marmalade French toast with a side of strawberries and a dollop of whipping cream.  
I’d allowed my participation in the corporate worship of the Church body to become a blasé routine that did little to challenge, cultivate, or spiritually form me.  So on this particular Sunday morning, I wasn’t expecting to nibble on anything but bran flakes.  

Both woefully ignorant of the practices and traditions of liturgical churches, Jason and I tentatively stepped across threshold of the local Anglican church to hear a guest speaker whose ministry my husband admires.  Between all of the warm handshakes and “Good Mornings,” I didn’t have a chance to bask in the beauty of my surroundings until we slid into the varnished pew. Jewel-tone radiant, the stained glass windows seemed to embody the richness of life and beckon the viewer to draw near.  The sweet, sticky smell of incense wafted upward toward the cedar beams with a comfort that dispelled my fear of being singled out as the “visitor.”  The melodic cadence of the processional choir adorned in gleaming vestments of silk imbued me with a sense of oneness with the ancient church and gave structure to our worship.

Jason and I found ourselves kneeling to collectively confess our sins and greeting one another with the prayer, “May the peace of Christ be with you.”  We responded to the Reader’s declarations with professions of gratitude to God and hymns of thanksgiving.  We relished the reading of the Word, and declared our hope for Christ’s second coming in the recitation of the Nicene Creed.  We received the exegetical application of the Old and New Testament lessons delivered by world-renowned scholar and orator, Reverend N.T. Wright, and sang the doxology. We stood for the presentation of the Eucharist, and when I heard George Herbert’s (1593-1633) words resounding in the nave, I begin to cry.  

Come ye hither all, whose taste is our waste; save your cost, and mend your fare.  God is here prepared and dressed, and the feast, God, in whom all good things are… Come ye hither all, whose love is your dove, and exalts you to the sky; here is love, which having breath ev’n in death, after death can never die.  Lord, I have invited all, and I shall still invite, still call to thee; for it seems but just and right in my sight, where is all, there all should be.

Where is all, there all should be.  In the communion of the Church body, in the sacrament we take to honor the death, resurrection, and second coming of Jesus Christ, in the worship of our triune God is the fullness of the Christian life.  For a brief moment, I felt as though God was as close as my breath.  I was fully alive.  Worshipping with all of my senses and faculties.  Keenly aware of the mysterious and intoxicating presence of my Lord.  Tenderly held in his arms.  In awe of his goodness and mercy.  Responding with adoration and praise.  In solidarity with millions of individuals, both past and present, who make up the glorious body of Christ.

The pure splendor of that morning remains with me.  I was awakened from my slumber and reminded of what a life of heart, head, and hand worship requires—my whole being fully engaged in knowing the persons of the Godhead.  And so, whether it takes visiting a different church one Sunday to gleam from another perspective, changing the structure or place of your quiet time, or reading from a new Bible translation, do that which rouses you from your spiritual routine and incites in you a fresh desire for our Father.  

And don’t worry if you find yourself occasionally tearing up as the sacred presence of heaven weaves its way into the ordinary moments of life and stuns you with palpable beauty.  Just look beside you.  You’re not alone.  There sits a quiet girl with simple tears.

 

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Tiffany Stein

Tiffany is the Women's Ministry Coordinator at Irving Bible Church, and a graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary. A proud, native Texan, she and her husband, Jason, live in Grapevine, Texas. She is passionate about advancing the God-given value of women and helping women to embrace their unique identity in Christ. She serves as a board member for the Association for Women in Ministry Professionals (AWMP) and served for the past 3 years on the leadership team for Polish Ministries, a ministry dedicated to helping young professional women connect their faith with their career.

One Comment

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    Gail Seidel

    Absolutely beautiful

    TIffany, thank you for this heaertfelt reflection of the Presence of Christ you experienced in your "change of scenery" worship service. It was if we were there with you. And, thank you for the poignant reminder that shifts in routine are often the catalyst needed to increase our attentiveness and noticing. My heart is encouraged.