All week long, at the beginning of his sermon, the Rev. Frank M. Reid III has said, “Let the congregation say amen.” Each day, he repeated it three more times, always ending with, “Now let the church say amen like you mean it.” And he always asked the congregation to hold hands with the people across the aisle as he prayed for the Holy Spirit to anoint the assembly.
Friday was no different as he brought his week of preaching to close with a sermon titled “I Have a Transforming Testimony” at 9:15 a.m. in the Amphitheater. His text was Psalm 37:23-28.
“The [recent] shootings show us that we are living in an irrational world where even a Bible study is not safe,” he said. “We are in need of a great awakening, and if I had time I would share how the founders of Chautauqua started this place because they knew that people needed a wake-up call throughout their lives.”
Reid reviewed the sermon series that he presented this week.
“Every one of you has a story,” he said. “Every one of you has a God-given destiny. As you live and walk the road of life, character is built. Your life has a story and if you listen to it, it will give you strength.”
He quoted the dedication page of Marina Keegan’s book, The Opposite of Loneliness: “I will live for love and the rest will take care of itself.”
This is what David in Psalm 37 was trying to tell us, he said. David looked at the irrationality of his life, his dysfunctional family, his power as king.
“I encourage you to embrace the irrationality of life,” Reid said. “When you embrace it, like Jacob wrestling with the theophany, or as the old people said the angel, remember that the steps of a good person are ordered by the Lord. After all the hell of life, you are still standing. You are still alive even though you are aging.
“You can strive for perfection as we Methodists do,” he continued. “Though you fail, the Lord will uphold you. We can look back at our lowest points and know that we are empowered because God held us in his hands.”
When we engage irrationality, we are empowered.
“I have been young, and now I am old, but I know that the righteous are not forsaken,” Reid said. “Keep on pushing; there is power in your story. ‘Blessed assurance Jesus is mine. Oh what a foretaste of glory divine.’ This is our story, praising our savior all the day long.”
“You have a testimony, and if you hold on, God will uphold you at the most difficult moment,” he continued. “We weep for a night, but joy comes in the morning. We are praising our savior all day long. ‘I will live for love and the rest will take care of itself.’ You have got a transforming testimony.”
The Rev. Carmen Perry presided. Bill Bates, longtime Chautauquan “whose jokes are no laughing matter,” read the Scripture. Jared Jacobsen, organist and worship coordinator, directed the Motet Choir. The choir sang “Choose Something Like a Star” by Randall Thompson with text from Robert Frost. The Mr. and Mrs. William Uhler Follansbee Memorial Chaplaincy supported this week’s services.