The past week has been a blur. Felicia and I have been on the internet reading story after story on Katrina. We both were raised in Louisiana and have family and friends in the New Orleans area. We have been contacting anyone we knew in the area to check on those we know and love. The good news is that it appears everyone did leave when the evacuation order was given. The bad news is, there is every probability that they have lost everything. It has been heart wrenching to see the magnitude of the suffering left behind by this monstrous storm.
We have also been watching the seminary stir into life as the fall semester has begun. Students have been pouring in from all over the world to begin their studies. We have been trying to mingle and meet them. We are trying to have at least one meal per day in the school dining hall to sit and visit with the students. We have been blest by the stories of how God led them here.
We’re also enjoying times of fellowship with friends and professors. We’ve met with friends from South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas. We’ve been up to Southern Ohio where we enjoyed the 30th birthday party of a young lady we prayed to be born when we were here. We enjoyed homecoming, dinner on the grounds, and a singin’ at Mt. Pisgah UMC, one of the churches I served in the 70’s. We’re going this weekend to visit our other church, Jonesville UMC, and share an afternoon of food, fun, fellowship, and games with them as well. It’s been wonderful.
The opening chapel service was awesome. I will let Felicia give her impressions of that. By the way, be praying for her as she prepares to speak in chapel next Wednesday. I will be leading worship for her. I will be her warm-up band. 8>)
Heart rehab is going well. I am in my second week and am already feeling stronger. I’m really glad to be hooked up to the monitors. It gives me the feeling that I have a net under me so that if I push too hard, they can let me know. I’m so glad that God has provided this opportunity. Keep the prayers coming.
Well, I’m glad school has started. Just in time, too. I’m really starting to miss my family back home. We stay in touch by telephone and “blown kisses”, but I miss those hugs!
Tuesday in the dining hall, we had lunch with 3 new students. They had only been here a week, with moving in and orientation, but each of them were already missing home because of the Labor Day holiday. Now these aren’t 4th and 5th grade campers! These are mature adults who have already had a career. It was interesting to hear of their adjustments to seminary life. There’s no place like home. Some of the students are from surrounding states, some from distant states (like Texas!), and some are from the other side of the world. So I would ask you to pray for all of us who are here in preparation for ministering the love of Jesus Christ “Across the Street, Across the Sea.” And also pray for the professors who, though they work in this out-of-the-way area of Kentucky, need to keep a fresh and vital faith as they train disciples to be leaders.
But as I was saying about school starting….WOW! Was chapel awesome this morning! WOW! Most of you have never had the opportunity to hear the incredible singing in Estes Chapel here on the campus of Asbury Seminary. I tell you, it’s worth a trip here just to experience that! We’d love the visit, too. 🙂 Do you remember that John Wesley exhorted us to “sing lustily”? Folks in Estes Chapel take that to heart. I can’t imagine that worship in heaven will be more vibrant! Our opening hymn today was “All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name”, Diadem version. Of course, there is a majestic pipe organ, but it’s the SINGING that just covers you. We sang verses 1-4 & 6. I sang lustily, too, until the 4th verse, when I was so overcome by emotion I couldn’t continue. “Let every kindred, every tribe, on this terrestrial ball, to Him all majesty ascribe, and crown Him Lord of all.” I was surrounded by many kindred, many tribes in that chapel, and it was overwhelming to see in my mind’s eye all us of around the throne of Jesus. And then the last verse, “Oh that with yonder sacred throng we at His feet may bow. We’ll join the everlasting song and crown Him Lord of all.” Can’t you just see all your loved ones who’ve gone before, bowing with you at Jesus’ feet? It was a powerful moment.
And this was just the opening hymn! JD Walt is Dean of the Chapel, and he gave the sermon for this opening Eucharist Chapel, It was a very moving sermon on the mercy of God, which will be a theme for this fall semester in chapel. But that description doesn’t do the sermon justice. JD is gentle and engaging, and the Spirit of the Lord flows out of him. He drew us into the heart of God for His people, before leading us in prayer for the victims of Hurricane Katrina, war in the Middle East, genocide in Sudan, drought in Niger, all accompanied by power point photographs. Then we took communion, “This is my body, broken for you.” There were many tears in the room. This was our fifth time to take communion since we arrived here a little over a month ago. Quite a lot!, and as I prepared to partake once again, my heart began singing “I need Thee every hour!”
When chapel was over, I was still so full of the presence of the Lord that I had to go into the small prayer chapel next door to finish my tears. I couldn’t just go on about my “business as usual.” I wanted to begin journaling right then, but even here in KY there are dailies to take care of.
Wesley tells me to wrap this up! Thank you for your prayers for us. We are watching and listening.