I felt strongly that God wanted me to set aside Feb. for Him – Call it an early Lent. I had already started fasting all sweets in January and the church asked us to fast in some way during Feb., so I continued and David fasted solid food on Mondays. Thanks to a book called Listening Prayer, I also discovered the pleasures of journaling at last, really enriching my time. With a 2-week school vacation this month, demands were light, making it easy to spend most mornings in my “new” leather recliner, tasting the joys of being filled up with God on a daily basis. Even though I had an amazing grace for the fast, I was slightly disappointed that it didn’t alleviate a few migraines, nor did I lose a single pound, though it did break my snacking habit! February ended up being the calm before the storm, as now I’m deep into a month chock full of hospitality, accompanied by loud construction in the courtyard that jars my “quiet time.”
The church had also planned an extended tabernacle on Feb 27th from 11 a.m.-11 p.m. that coincided with Purim and ended our fasts. David and I were among the handful of people that attended the entire 12 hours. This is still part of our vision here, so we gave it our all. It was miraculous that I was able to prepare all week and still have energy to participate fully – Another benefit of my fast? While I did most of the work ahead of time to transform the church in the visible realm, David was sweating it out as it happened, making sure the invisible ran smoothly in the technical and sound areas. When we were down to our last musical group change, he was finally able to step down and accompany on the drum set, worshiping with the last bit of strength he had left. So what does a 12 hr.”sacrifice of praise” look like? Here’s a handy step-by-step illustrated guide:
How to prepare yourself for a 12 hour Purim event:
- Move closer to God the month before and fast something that your flesh clamors for.
- Volunteer to create corners in the sanctuary where participants can enter into the story of Esther and interact with the Trinity in a personal way to break up the corporate worship time.
- Lose sleep the week before while creative ideas flood your mind. Meet with a small team and get it into order.
- Deep clean the church, move out all furniture except 60 chairs, and build corners while only spending $30.
Make 6 dozen homemade traditional Purim cookies.
- Create worksheets for the children to get all age levels engaged in the theme.
How to worship God for 12 hours straight:
- Get your adrenaline up by being greeted by the accolades of others for all your work.
- Lead the first 90 min. of worship.
- Try out your corners and find out that God’s presence is there, even for you!
- Draw a picture in the art corner and give it to someone you don’t know.
- Enjoy worshiping as a participant with a French Christian recording artist.
- Keep incense burning at the entry and refill wine and food at the banquet table.
- Film your youngest daughter fulfilling her destiny and leading worship!
- Project words for German worship team with the help of someone who actually speaks the language.
- Take daughter home midway through the day and stop by the local sandwich shop to refuel.
- Bring back a sandwich for David and eat yours in the nursery while checking on the worksheet supply and playing with your favorite kids.
- Repeat #4 and receive more accolades from late comers.
- Worship with corporate movement while the older youth team leads.
- When families show up for the 7-9 pm service slot, gather the children up front with shakers for the traditional reading of the Megillah (Jewish story of Esther, punctuated by making lots of noise when Haman’s name is mentioned.) Take photos.
- Enjoy the sermon on the deeper truths of Esther.
- Teach your favorite 3 yr old how to draw a face at the art table.
- Start policing older children whose parents aren’t, to protect the ambiance. (They can’t resist running/skidding on the laminate floors across the front of the sanctuary during our exuberant worship times, and I seem to be the only one who notices when it gets out of hand.)
- Breathe a sigh of relief when the families head home at 9:30.
- Celebrate the end with dancing until you can’t stand up anymore.
- Put the cutest face drawing in the world on your refrigerator.
- Welcome your first guest into your home the next evening – a German angel who stayed 5 days…
Still praying for spring!