The Night I was Hoping Wouldn't Happen ...
Those who are fans of Kate Simmonds and follow her movements will know that last night was her final appearance leading worshipping and performing a gig at Church of Christ the King, Brighton. I think I knew it was going to be a memorable night (what else would get me to drive that 250 mile route to Brighton yet AGAIN?) but quite how memorable I wasn't prepared for.
The auditorium was completely packed out with notable faces showing up in a beautiful display of true Christian family - such as Mrs Virgo, Lou and Nathan Fellingham and John Hosier. She began by leading worship. Now we only sang 4 songs: "Give thanks to the Lord", "We come in Your Name (You have been lifted)", "Light of the World" and "In Christ Alone" - but I was astounded at how there was no warm up time allowed. The Presence of the Spirit of God was upon the meeting while the band were playing the first few notes! It was just ... Alive!
She then moved into what elder Steve Horne called "her gig". It wasn't a "gig" though. It was an extension of a time of the most powerful worship that I have ever experienced. Her songs ranged from the lively and passionate, to gospel, to intimate worship and through all of them what most captivated me was Kate's face. Her eyes were usually shut and her face was aglow and lifted to the heavens. This amazing woman is a worshipper! She sang two particular songs that reduced me to tears. She introduced one song by giving a short testimony sharing how she was wandering the Brighton seafront crying out to God to rescue her "if He was out there" and then she went on to meet a couple who went to CCK and brought her along. The rest is history. But the song was one of wonder and amazement that God would reach down and save her. It reminded me of how easily we forget our "first love" in the fires of controversy. Perhaps a life-saving practice would be to remember our pre-conversion state before God reached down and drew us (or in my case - dragged) to Himself.
The second song came just after David Fellingham had given a very powerful presentation of the gospel under the title; "Songs that Changed the World". He excellently compared songs from the world from Elvis Presley and the Beatles that offer no hope to songs in the Bible that offer every hope. He ended by quoting the awesome hymn, "Amazing Grace". This hymn is particularly special because it was the hymn that my beloved Grandpa chose for his Memorial Service when he died. Kate went on to sing it and I was completely floored by the truths in those lines. "Twas grace that brought me safe thus far and grace will lead me home". "Amazing grace! How sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me!". And then the final verse ... a reflection on the wonderful and glorious hope we have to come; "When we've been there ten thousand years, bright shining as the sun! We've no less days to sing God's praise than when we first begun!". Wow ...
The night wasn't really about Kate Simmonds - by her own design. The look on her face when we sung the lines of one of my favourite songs said, what the night was REALLY about:
"Holy is the Lamb worthy of glory - worthy of honour.
High and lifted up - and seated in majesty - Your throne will last forever!
Holy is the Lamb worthy of glory - worthy of honour.
High and lifted up - and seated in majesty - Your throne will last forevermore!".
The UK's loss is Australia's gain ... Roll on Brighton Leaders Conference ...