We walked into a room of men trying to warm themselves inside after a long day in the freezing November city air.
The aroma was strong...one hundred sweaty and soiled men finding their seats. The deep eyes-some downcast, some hopeful.
Hair matted by hats or grayed by the years.
A sea of mostly black faces with white sprinkled about. Wrinkles and aged freckles, sand-papered hands, and layered limbs...each representing an inimitable story, some just waiting for a chance to be told.
Chaplain Sam got the crowed "Amen-ing" and "Hallelujah-ing" off the bat, and we began to worship.
What followed was something of the Lord, not of human leading.
As we started the songs, there was an atmosphere of sudden grace, and a sense of angelic presence.
The notes resounding through an air of wonder, the worship reverberating from wall to wall. There is power in the name of Jesus!
We sang this Jesus Culture song and it was like I had heard it for the very first time. The booming men's voices, all ages and timbres, soared through the room.
I can attest, this power was very real!
By the time we got to "King of Heaven" (Hillsong United), this mish-mash choir of bedraggled and blessed gentlemen were up on their feet again, boldly proclaiming praise. Emmanuel! God with us! Emmanuel! Hallelujah!
I could hardly hold back the tears.
The sound was more melodious than an Oscar-winning soundtrack.
This was the soundtrack of the moment...the story of God-with-us in that moment.
We saved these magnificent few minutes. An ocean of diverse, yet unified voices rose in praise like I've never quite heard before.
It really was a glimpse of unadulterated delight-those faces.
A mighty crash of heaven meets earth in a hallowed moment of brokenness and blessing.
Tones and expressions of reverence toward God so striking.
I didn't want the song to end.
I didn't want this foreshadowing and taste of glory to be over, for us to go back to life as usual with its pain and disarray...back to the city night sadness and present uncertainty for so many of these lives.
But the moment went just like it came, unassumingly slipping into the night.
The sermon was filled with vital truth and vigor.
Men found themselves walking forward during the final prayer, making decisions to follow Christ from this night forward.
Their voices rang out through the closing song.
I tried, hard as I might, to savor this heavenly choir and remember this night.
I want to go back to my hometown rescue mission with new inspiration and vision.
Sometimes stepping out of our own place of normalcy and comfort into someone else's ministry, home, or
environment, sparks a new flame of passion, rekindles a heart of expectation, and reignites the eyes to see miracle's fire.
My ears were most assuredly renewed in their sense of the holy.
I will remember those voices, that chorus of burly glory that sang tonight with such intensity, fervor, and abandon. I will recall the deep soul singing and I will ask God to keep me awake and aware to these miracle moments in the days and weeks to come.