So to visit Prom Praise in the Royal Albert Hall and hear hymns sang out in such a heavenly manner was life-changing. To realise it is okay to be excited about the wonderful gospel and our amazing God! I never forgot it. It's been a few years since I've last been - so it was great to be back. A few highlights for me;
1. The outstanding Grace Yeo performing Rachmaninov's "Concerto No. 2 in C Minor (Finale)". I'm ashamed to say I have never been a massive fan of classical music but to watch this gifted young woman (and a member of All Souls Langham place) perform this piece on a grand piano - without music - and watch her fingers moving faster than I could watch was breathtaking!
2. Singing Stuart Townend's; "The Power of the Cross" and one of my favourite hymns; "O Lord my God (How Great Thou art)". There is something heavenly about singing these amazing truths to a thundering great organ and an orchestra. I'm sure it's just a small touch of what heaven will be like! Particularly this verse;
"When Christ shall come with shout of acclamation and take me home -
what joy shall fill my heart! Then shall I bow in humble adoration,
and there proclaim, my God - how great Thou art!".
3. I was surprised and taken aback by Pam Rhodes hosting and "Pause for Thought". I've known of her well of course on Songs of Praise but wouldn't call myself a fan particularly. However her ten minute "chat" was a breath of fresh air. She shared a couple of thoughts that really stuck with me. She was asking her family about what commandments they would invent if they could to add to the 10 Commandments for a Radio 2 show. Her 19 year old nephew said this;
"I will respond to your encouragement but I resent your criticism".
It made me realise how utterly NEGATIVE my Christian life and church experience has become. Talk of indwelling sin, bad conscience, accountability groups and so on have seared me with a view that God may have saved me but is constantly angry at me and disappointed in me. But Noel Tredinnick made a comment in between songs about how "the Second Adam" has come to reconcile us to God - and the New Covenant is all about open fellowship with God! So why are we blaspheming the Cross by going back to (or falling from grace) when we were separated from Him?
I am reminded by the Ambassadors of Reconciliation comment on SGM and their current difficulties - the observation of (in SGM);
"... the lack of proclaiming God's grace to one another that seems apparent in this dispute. When confessions were made ... we observed no evidence of proclaiming God's forgiveness to the one who confessed".
Oh for more positivity - not just in SGM but the church worldwide! I will never forget hearing Rob Parson's making a prophetic statement at Spring Harvest 1998;
"When the Father's house is filled with the Father's love - then the prodigals will come home".