It was a congregation whose "prime" had passed. The attendance was half of what it used to be as empty pews marked the places where entire families once sat. The singing only echoed the full voices that had previously stirred the building with sweet praise.
We had come here passing through on vacation, looking for old friends who we learned had moved away or joined other, more progressive congregations. The service seemed to mourn their leaving as it wound its way through an uninspired set of songs and a prayer by one who had little to say to God.
My disappointment with the worship was complete when, instead of the regular preacher, it was announced that a student intern was going to deliver the sermon that morning. "Oh great," I thought, "I get one Sunday off to receive ministry and I have to listen to a beginner give his first sermon."
The young man rose to the pulpit and began to preach a sermon about Jesus' life. The material was familiar, the format and presentation shaky and the illustrations drawn from the usual sources. I remember (rather egotistically) "At least they could have asked me to preach."
About half way through, he mentioned the resurrection and suddenly his voice and spirit began to soar as he spoke with conviction, authority and joy. The entire assembly was captured by his sincerity and the power of the Word. I realized once again as I repented from my pride that the "gospel is the power" (Romans 1:16) and that God had indeed ministered to me that morning.