Thursday, January 23, 2014
Heaven's Gates / Hell's Flames
We'll be doing Heaven's Gates / Hell's Flames at Pearson this weekend. This will be the first time we have done in it in several years.
I'm cautiously excited about it. I love having the opportunity to be part of this outreach again. The message is simple; One Day you will die and you will either go to heaven or hell. You choose now which it will be. The dramas force the audience to acknowledge that their time on earth is finite and that the possibility of spending eternity in Heaven or Hell is something that they must address. Doesn't get much simpler than that.
So, why am I cautiously excited? The whole HG/HF experience is an emotional roller coaster for the cast and support staff. We will spend 3 days preparing for the drama and 3 nights delivering the message. For many, it is the first time they will see God moving in a tangible way. For many it will be the first time they will experience Satan's openly blatant attack. For some, it is the first time they have been in an environment where they are totally dependent on God. Most have not had to memorize an entire dramatic scene, much less memorize it in 24 hours. Between the lack of sleep and the nerves of being on stage, we will all be very much dependent on God to deliver His message of redemption through us.
The last time we did this, we had a lot of divisiveness in our congregation afterward. Granted, it was several years ago and the "Contemporary" movement was in full swing. There was much made over the shift from a somber worship service to the lifting of hands and "rock and roll" music. I'm not sure if the arguments amongst our congregation were a result of the drama itself, or the passionate response from the cast of the drama. The weekend preparing for the drama gave the cast the courage and desire to worship in a more open manner. We were excited - very excited - about what God had done in our lives that weekend. We were very much on a spiritual "high". This was new to most all of us and a very welcome change. One of our senior citizen ladies, then in her 70's accepted Christ that weekend. She said "I never knew that I was supposed to have a 'relationship' with Jesus'". This was a paradigm shift for most of us at the time....which seems odd now because this is the normal way of thinking now.
Anyway, we were very excited and did not take into account that there was an entire section of our congregation who was not involved in the drama, did not experience the awakening we did, and did not understand the sudden changes in our worship style. Looking back, I see that we were insensitive to their needs and feelings and, while I do believe that the changes that began then were ultimately best for our congregation, we could have been more gentle in the movement.
So, I am cautiously excited about this weekend. I have wonderful friends who will be participating in the drama for the first time and I expect their lives and their relationship with Christ to be radically changed. I know that God will deliver many in the audience from the bondage of sin and guilt with the promise of Salvation. These things fill me with excitement to the point of giddiness! I am praying that the excitement and renewal born out of this revival will unite our congregation this time rather than divide it. I believe this will be the case. Our congregation is in a different place than we were before. I believe they are ready for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
I'll let ya know how it goes! I covet your prayers!