My church has been working through a series on relationships lately, the past few weeks have been focused on things like attraction and dating, courtship and intimacy (missed that week when I was out at Naivasha), sex, and today they were due to move into marriage, but they threw a curveball.
When it came time for the sermon, the same pastor and wife who last week talked on sex (a talk in which, the pastor admitted to pre-marital sex - there's been a lot of people getting really brutally honest over the past few weeks), got up on stage but the worship band / singers stayed on stage.
After pointing out that the church was 70% young singles (it is), and reviewing the past topics that had been focused on the single people issues, he said that it would be callous to jump into marriage without pausing to come to grips with all that we had been talking about. And then he made the very important point that the church, the pastors and leaders are there, not with the answers, but to pray with us and point us to the One who does have the answers.
And then, instead of a sermon, all of the pastors and leaders came to the front and the worship band lead 20 or so minutes of songs to pray with whoever had been touched by the raw topics we had been talking about - those struggling with relationships, those struggling with sex outside of marriage, those struggling with whatever. 20 or so minutes moving between songs in english and songs in Swahili, and people getting about as real as it can get and being prayed over. It was pretty powerful.
But what I really liked was the way he closed the time - asking all of the single people to stand while he prayed for them. One part in particular struck me - he prayed for the healing of those who had been growing older while still single, and that God would forgive the church for any ways in which it had stigmatized singleness as a sin, for any ways in which it had repelled single people in that particular way. I'm paraphrasing and not getting it quite right, but it was damn nice to have the church praying for my singleness for just what it is, rather than turning it into something it isn't. I left encouraged.
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"If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world."