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Going On a Trip?

Written by Susan Nelson on


Think for a moment about the last time you went on a trip—maybe on an airplane. What pre-trip details did you consider? Did you buy tickets and make a packing list? Did you look at online reviews or ask friends for restaurant recommendations? Did you make a hotel or campsite reservation? In order for any trip to run smoothly and the destination to be enjoyed, some preparations must be in place.

Much the same as preparing for a journey, preparations and details must be considered for a Sunday morning worship service. Every Tuesday evening, you will find a group of people at College Park Church working together to do just that. The goal is to make a plan to prepare for the journey of the worship services and sitting under the teaching from God’s living word. These planning meetings are called “Preflight” to remind us of our purpose at the “pre-travel” stage.

For several years, I have been privileged to be a part of the Preflight team. When we meet together, most importantly, we commit our time to the Lord asking the Holy Spirit to guide and direct us in His ways for our church for the glory of God. We then read the scripture passage for the Sunday sermon and begin to discuss the common themes and threads of truth that run through the text. Soon, the marvelous facets of God’s sovereignty, immutability, and omnipotence begin to shine through the ancient words. Without fail, every week, the focus eventually becomes sharper and a word or phrase comes to light for that particular week of worship. Finally, we consider various elements of worship through scriptures, prayers, song, dance, drama, spoken word, testimony, or visual images that would best portray the theme. Nearly every week, laughter breaks out across the table as we share this task with one another. We value one another’s unique perspective and giftings. It is such a joy to process these concepts through a creative lens! As ideas are spun together during the planning time, and then realized in a worship service, we desire that every aspect would help our people to receive God’s truth in a way that would further ignite a passion to follow Jesus.

As the Preflight team considered the book of Hosea in recent weeks, a sobriety has fallen over us. How do we begin to engage with the weight of a concept like God’s scandalous and undeserved grace? How would we make it come alive for people in a way that stops them in their tracks, convicts their hearts and lifts up their heads in grateful thanksgiving for the mercy, kindness, and faithfulness of our Savior?

In our humanity, we are ill-equipped for such a task. We don’t have adequate songs, stories, or pictures, to fully capture the rich, extravagant beauty of all that we have been delivered from. We don’t have words to describe all we have received by the beauty of His sacrifice. How can we possibly articulate the reality and implications of the gospel in fresh ways that will stir hearts to worship in Spirit and in Truth? So, prayerfully we lay the offering of our plans before Him, seeking to be wise and discerning in our preparation. We pray we have attended to the necessary details and trust the Lord that He will fill our plans with His Spirit and multiply our efforts for the ultimate destination of His glory among our people. We realize again that we are as dependent on God for these preparations as we are for our next breath. We echo the hymn writer of old as we entrust it all to our King.

Come, Thou Fount of every blessing
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace
Streams of mercy, never ceasing
Call for songs of loudest praise
Teach me some melodious sonnet
Sung by flaming tongues above
Praise the mount, I’m fixed upon it
Mount of Thy redeeming love

Susan Nelson

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