Since we were in Columbus house-sitting, Tom and I decided to attend Linworth UMC on Sunday for worship. Linworth is a large congregation (three full-time pastors!) about half a mile from John and Jackie’s house. There are three worship services, two traditional services at 9 and 11:30, and a contemporary service in between at 10:15. We attended the contemporary service because it was a comfortable time – 9 being too early and 11:30 being too late.
We were impressed with how smoothly everything ran at the church. There is only 15 minutes between services, so people move out of the worship center quickly to go to Sunday School, fellowship time, or home. There was a family of greeters holding the doors open for us and welcoming us in. A welcome center just inside the door caught my eye, but we moved on into the sanctuary. The band was running its final sound check and the service began right on time.
The Senior Pastor of the church is Rev. Rae Lynn Schleif. I don’t know how long she has been at Linworth, but she mentioned in her sermon that she has been a pastor for 33 years. She gave the announcements, we sang a couple of songs, had a time of prayer with the offering, and then moved into the message which was proceeded by a testimony based on the scripture verse for the day. Rev. Schleif started a series on the Beatitudes last Sunday, and was preaching on Matthew 5:3, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to them.” She tied in the parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector from Luke 18:9-14. We are poor in spirit when we are humble in our faith – understanding that we are not perfect and do not live out God’s will perfectly in our lives. She mentioned two blessing we receive when we are poor in spirit: 1. The blessing of knowing we are not good enough and thus need the grace that God gives so freely and 2. The blessing of seeing God work in our lives to change us into his likeness. I especially like this second point and have been thinking about it since Sunday. When we are being forced to admit weaknesses in our lives and trying to change to do something about them, we can feel a long way from blessed. But as we work through difficult times, with God’s help, we often come through on the other side knowing again how blessed we are.
The service was a mix of people of all ages, although the young children have their own worship service in another part of the building. The band was very good and everything ran flawlessly. We really enjoyed visiting Linworth UMC and would like to go again. On our way out, we wandered through the building and picked up a welcome packet of information from the center. We will certainly recommend that John and Jackie check it out.