Cloud of Glory

All the Levites who were musicians stood on the east side of the altar, dressed in fine linen and playing cymbals, harps and lyres. They were accompanied by 120 priests sounding trumpets. The singers raised their voices in praise to the Lord. Then the temple of the Lord was filled with the cloud, and the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled the temple of God. – 2 Chronicles 5:12-14 excerpts (NIV)

During the pandemic, one of our student pastors preached a real banger of a sermon on Zoom. The next part of the service was communion, and our other student pastor spotlighted herself on the app and started in on the beautiful liturgy she’d written.

But a few words in, the invitation caught in her throat. We all watched as her eyes filled up and tears ran down her cheeks. She wiped them away and tried to go on with worship, but it was no use.

Many of the rest of us were in the same boat. Crying on Zoom together. Not ready or able to move on from the power of the word we’d been given. So we just sat there together, quietly, letting it sink in.

What a gift. To have your worship interrupted by the glory of God. For the room to grow so thick with tears, or laughter, or peace, or conviction that it’s just not possible to carry on with your well-planned order of service.

What a privilege to know God’s presence for a certainty. To have it block out everything else for a long, quiet moment. To be stopped in your tracks by the one you’re seeking after. I only wish it happened more.

A prayer…

Interrupt me, God.

Rev. Vince Amlin is co-pastor of Bethany UCC, Chicago, a co-planter of Gilead Church Chicago, forming now, and a contributor to Still Speaking Daily Devotional, a ministry of the UCC.