Today was my last Sunday worshipping with the great folks at Knob Creek. I have been blessed by their ministry and their mission to the Belwood Community. Following worship this morning, we had a wonderful fellowship around the table … you know, all of the good homemade stuff: chicken, baked spaghetti, casseroles, and desserts galore! Well, of course I had to fix myself a “to-go” plate. And that is when something unexpected happened … I saw God. Yes, in the most tangible way I have ever experienced, I saw God. And without the picture, you will never believe me.
I told a few of the ladies that I was going to take my plate and items I had used during worship to my car, so I would not forget it, and I could come back and fellowship. I exited the front of the church, and went to the passenger door of my car. I sat my “to-go” plate in the floorboard, closed the door, and “WWHHOOSSHH!” Thank goodness I was the only one outside, because this “thing” came right across my head and I know I yelled out, “What the heck?!” After basically getting off the ground, and composing myself, I looked up at the top of the gothic tower that stands firm as a beacon to the community, and there was God. I stood in awe, I just stood there, not wanting to move … afraid it would disappear as fast as it came. I stepped back slowly, grabbed my phone, and took a few pictures.
Do you see what swooshed across my head? I could not believe it: a white dove. It stayed there, looked down at me, watched me as I went back into the sanctuary. And it all came to my mind that in the midst of this current transition from being the Pastor of The Belwood Charge to being the Associate Pastor of First UMC Gastonia, was that God was with me, God was fully present with me and fully present with the churches of Belwood, and with the incoming Pastor, Rev. Sears.
But, here is the most amazing part of this story. I was in the church fellowship hall for another 30 or so minutes after the white dove came across my head and perched upon the rock. The dove never left. I went to my car, and as I opened my door, I again stood in awe as the dove took flight and came by my car and floated off above the pine trees next to the church. I could not think of words or anything, really. God really just sent me a message, as plain as day, an experience of God I will never forget. And as I reflect on this moment, I knew that God was pointing me to the scripture where Jesus is talking with his disciples, and a message that I share with you all in Belwood:
The Companion, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I told you. “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give you. I give to you not as the world gives. Don’t be troubled or afraid” (John 14:26-27, CEB).
God is giving us all peace in the midst of this transition, telling me and all of you that we need not to be afraid, for there is an advocate among us all in this very moment that is bringing us peace in this turbulent time. Beyond blessed for the great opportunity to be a pastor, and most importantly, a called child of God!
Grace & Peace,