I come to the garden alone, While the dew is still on the roses, And the voice I hear, falling on my ear, The Son of God discloses. And He walks with me, and He talks with me, and He tells me I am His own, And the joy we share as we tarry there, None other has ever known.
~In the Garden Verse 1
Inspired by Jesus praying in the garden at Gethsemane in Matthew 26:36-56 and Luke 22:39-46, we named our newest worship service “the Garden”.
Part of Renewal
Our church has been going through a “renewal” process with our synod. So members of our Renewal Team have been attending conferences (called retreats) several times a year, gathering information. Sometimes the conference focuses on telling stories, particularly stories of faith. And sometimes the conferences focuses on branding, on the language we use and the messages we send to the community around us. Often, the conferences have focused on prayer and worship.
Prayer and worship are part of renewal for churches, but also an incredible part of our own renewal as individuals of faith. Encouraged by the information gathered at these retreats around worshipful lives and investigating new ways to share worship together, I found myself wondering.
What are ways we renew ourselves in our faith and in the presence of God in our lives?
After Easter last spring, I noticed myself missing those Wednesday evening worship services. They had acted as a mid-week renewal for me personally, and I wondered if other people felt similarly. Something, even just a monthly something, would fit well into the recommendations from our Renewal Team. And so I began to investigate.
To my surprise, with leaders from our Worship & Music team, quarterly leaders, and our church’s council, I was not alone. I was not alone in my interest in something in addition to our regular Sunday morning worship. None of us were sure what it would be, but we were excited.
After going through the many channels, gathering feedback and information along the way, the Worship & Music team received affirmation from Council to begin a once monthly Wednesday evening service. And the real planning began.
Together with our musician and another member of the Worship & Music committee, we met to plan out what this service might look like. And with prayerful and excited conversations, we discovered The Garden.
Come to the Garden to Pray
Sharing together the feedback from all the information gathering, we prayed over what we hoped for this worship service. More than anything, all of us wanted to create a space to rest, to refresh, to be renewed in our faith in that middle of the week.
As we discussed our hopes, we found ourselves focusing on prayer, on song, on meditation. And Jesus in the garden at Gethsemane came to mind. “Come to the Garden to pray” became our tagline and the vision for this new once monthly service.
And I’m so excited as we begin on the third Wednesday of each month. Coming together for worship, in our prayers, in our singing, in our meditation, and in our renewal.
What are ways you find renewal in your life? What are ways you find God’s presence outside of Sunday morning?