MORNING WORSHIP: Silence, stillness and self-denial keys to spiritual growth

“I chose to go to Harvard for seminary rather than Yale because I had a religious experience at St. Paul AME Church in Boston. The Holy Spirit was moving in worship and transforming lives,” said the Rev. Frank M. Reid III at the 9:15 a.m. Thursday morning worship service. “The church was filled with young people. The pastor had a message of power with the Holy Spirit as the empowerer.”

“As I have grown older, I have found the gospel of power corrupting, divisive and it becomes dysfunctional. It makes the church like the world instead of the church of Jesus Christ,” he said. Reid’s sermon title was “The Power of Weakness” and his text was Psalm 37:5.

Reid cited theologian Marva J. Dawn’s book Powers, Weakness and Tabernacling of God. Dawn wrote that Christians do not wrestle with flesh and blood but with principalities and powers, with evil and wickedness in high places. How do we deal with it? She said through the power of weakness.

“We live in a world of self-actualization and social action, we have forgotten the power of weakness. We should pray like everything depends on the power of God and work like everything depends on us. St. Augustine said [to God] my soul is restless until it rests in you.”

Reid said in the world today people are so busy doing nothing, they miss doing what is essential. “I remember a book called Tyranny of the Urgent!; we miss the essential. Theologian Walter Brueggemann, in his writing, reminds us that Sabbath means to learn to rest in God. It was irrational for David, at the end of his life, to say don’t fret, commit your way to the Lord, rest in the Lord.”

To rest in the Lord means to move beyond emotional intelligence and become spiritually intelligent, said Reid. “If you are going to rest in the Lord you need to learn spiritual disciplines. You need to learn silence, stillness and self-denial instead of self-actualization. Jesus said if anyone would come after me, you had to deny yourself and follow him.”

The purpose of self-denial, Reid said, is to develop in God’s way.

“We have to learn how to surrender, to let go. What stops you from letting go? You have to learn to let go and let God. Let go of power and let God empower.

“Then you can sing the old song,” he said. “ ‘I surrender to Jesus … I surrender all.’ Then God will give you the desires of your heart because you have learned to rest in him.”

The Rev. Carmen Perry presided. The Rev. Kent Ira Groff, Presbyterian minister and founder of Oasis Ministries, read 2 Corinthians 12:7-10. Jared Jacobsen, organist and worship coordinator, directed the Motet Choir. The choir sang “A City Called Heaven” by Dwight Bigler. Becky Scarnati, oboe, Barbara Hois, flute, and Joe Musser, piano, performed “Trio” by Pietro Locatelli for the prelude. The Mr. and Mrs. William Uhler Follansbee Memorial Chaplaincy supports this week’s services.