Sunday, May 29th, was a wonderful day for worship and celebration! There were two celebrations on this Lord’s Day that made the day particularly festive for the congregation of First Church. First, it was the last of several Sundays recognizing the various schools of the Church of Christ in Thailand that are located here in Chiangmai. The school that was recognized on this day was Chiangmai Christian School, a private Christian school that was born right on the campus of First Church. The school now uses the old property of First Church (just one block south) as its main campus – the most prominent feature of which is the old church, now an historic landmark. (You can see that campus in my blog of May 11, 2011 entitled, “Another Early Morning Walk.”)
On this particular day, there were two pastors leading different parts of the worship service: Acharn Boonyawat, the Senior Pastor of the Church, and Acharn Arun, a guest who had a special role to play later in the service. Acharn Arun once worked with Mom and Dad at a lay leadership training center south of Bangkok. Lay leaders from Chiangmai Christian School led worship, read scripture and prayed. As I sat there listening to the scripture being read by one of the school administrators, I felt a deep sense of awe that this congregation, who started a simple elementary school on faith in the years after I left Thailand, was being blessed by the fruits of their faith: a worship service led by those who now work and teach at the school that now has several thousand students. How many more Christians will be born from the faith that started this school. God is good!
Finally, after God’s Word had been proclaimed and the offering had been collected, Acharn Arun stood up to do what he had been tasked to do on this day: to install the newest group of Deacons and Elders for this congregation. This moving service of installation, patterned after the Presbyterian installation service, has always been one of my favorite activities as a pastor for I believe that there is no greater service that a lay person can do for the church than to lead the people of God in work and in worship through this commitment to Jesus Christ and his Church. The Deacons and Elders took their vows. The two pastors laid hands on them and prayed for them. And, just before the benediction was pronounced, the congregation gave to each Deacon and each Elder a bouquet of beautiful flowers. They received an ovation from the congregation. It was such a joyful and meaningful day, filled with the fruit of the Spirit and the fruit of the labor of many Christians.