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Back when I was in high school, 1980 to be exact, our youth group took a road trip.  This was quite an adventure for a rag tag youth group from Fond du Lac, Wisconsin.  We traveled 1, 021 miles in two days with an overnight stop at Concordia College in Seward Nebraska. We were on our way to the first national youth gathering for the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod “Rejoice in His Presence.”  I was very excited to be off on this adventure, but no so excited on day two when the temperature on our bus kept getting warmer and warmer.  We finally HAD to stop and get the AC looked at and repaired before we could be on our way.

We were “rejoicing in our AC” as our trip continued.  All part of the adventure, the breaking down of our bus on that trip was the first of many bus/van events in my next 30 years.  Great stories are build around these kind of adventures, but this side trip had a cost.  While the new AC was great the simple fact was that we were going to get there behind schedule.  Most of the rest of the details of the day escape me today except for one.

80-1By time we made it to Moby Gym on the campus of Colorado State University, the opening night of the Gathering was already underway.  We walked in on the middle of the opening worship service.  What happened next I will never forget, we arrived in time to hear thousands (3-5 thousand if my memory serves me) youth praying the Lord’s Prayer.  It was an amazing experience.  I had no idea that so many youth knew the Lord’s prayer.  WOW look at all these Lutheran Christian youth!  I was not alone.

I since that time have had the experience of praying together with groups up to 40,000 people all celebrating the faith together.  I truly am blessed by these experiences.  There is something amazing that happens when God’s people come together for Worship.  I worship now in a small church each Sunday morning I am not on the road. and there is something powerful in praying with the body of Christ in your own local church.  To know most of the people in the room, and to know they are your neighbors and friends fills up my life on a weekly basis.

But there is another even that I remember.  It too involved a trip with a group of people.  Not a bus ride this time, but a plane ride to the Dominican Republic – followed  by a long and bumpy bus ride… cant seem to shake those buses from my stories.  But this time the even does not include a large group, although we did worship as a large group upon our arrival in the DR.  This memory is of just two people, a small group, the smallest of groups I suppose.  This group was not in a gym or a sanctuary, but behind a small humble home in LaCumbre, DR.

2013-07-16 22.00.45-1There was no formal worship service happening here , just a cement floor being laid in a form made from scrap wood, and even a tin can. The two people in this group didn’t even speak the same language, on the outside.  These two people took turns singing songs of praise to the Lord Jesus in two different spoken languages, but one language of the heart.  This was worship at it’s finest.  I am so blessed to have been apart of that remarkable worship event.  I am grateful for the love and friendship born out of that event.

Who says Worship is only on Sunday?  Who says worship is only in a church? Know that we are not alone in this journey in faith we call life.  When every you have the opportunity to sing, to pray, to ponder what God has done for you, in a small group or a large group, in a formal setting, or in a back yard, make the most of it.

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.
Colossians 3:16 (NIV)

What a joy to travel this life in the presence of so many who speak our same heart language.  I pray that you will know the joy of worship this week in the presence of a small group of people that you know and love.  This journey of life was never intended for us to make alone.  Be connected! Be Blessed! Be encouraged as you encourage.

<>< Craig