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worship

Night Of Joy 2010

Well we did it again.  This is now the sixth consecutive year that I have attended Night of Joy at Disney, Orlando.  Richard has accompanied me for the last five.  We stayed for two nights because Richard decided that the line-up of artists was just too good on both nights.  Who was I to argue?

I have to say that in all the years that I have been this event does not lose its magic and excitement.  I have never been disappointed, even when they took it out of Magic Kingdom for a couple of years and tried it over at MGM Studios.  The artists are always fantastic and the various venues and set ups are just great.

Some of the artists and bands that played for us this year were David Crowder Band, Casting Crowns, Chris Tomlin, Sidewalk Prophets, Britt Nicole, Third Day, and Mercy Me.  Now where else can you be entertained by such a galaxy of stars in the space of two nights all in one place.  There were a few more but I didn’t hear them.  That’s probably the only problem – having to choose who to listen to because there are at least two artists/bands playing at the same time in different venues.

For me the best venue is the stage they set up with Cinderella’s castle as the back drop.  At night, with all the changing lights playing on the castle, it is truly a magical atmosphere.  This lends itself really well to the high energy music and the level of audience participation.  Even after six years it never ceases to amaze me that thousands of people travel from all over (and I mean all over the world!) to take part in this Christian event.

The energy that can be felt is very uplifting and I am always struck by the number of young people who are there openly worshipping God.  Hands and hearts are raised during every song.  And then, of course, during some of the more rock-style numbers there’s lots of jumping up and down “for God”. 

I have to say that I think my favorite artist this year was Chris Tomlin whose routine is seamless and very high energy.  He doesn’t falter from song to song and his genuine love of God and desire to worship Him is very clear.  Mercy Me runs a close second and I really like Casting Crowns and Third Day. 

Once again I came away from the experience feeling very uplifted.  Music is a precious gift from God and I love the way these musicians give back to God what He has bestowed upon them.  Here’s looking forward to next year and another soul fulfilling night of joy!

Spiritual & Physical: An Incredible Journey

Wow!  I am still overwhelmed.  Two thousand two hundred and fifty three miles completed on the back of the Harley.  That was the sum total of the mileage of our trip to and from San Antonio, Texas.  And Rich added another five hundred and seventy five miles to that as he travelled from San Antonio to Arlington, Texas and back.  He just had to smell the sweat in the new Cowboys stadium:-).

We spent three days on the road to get to San Antonio, and three days to get back to Jacksonville, Florida.  That’s a lot of God’s creation visited and appreciated and a lot of private God-time as we rode.

I am not completely isolated when I ride passenger on the Harley.  Rich and I have interconnecting speakers and mikes so that we can communicate as we travel.  If either of us sees something interesting we are quick to point it out to the other.  And it’s always good to say “I love you” as we ride.

But most of the time is spent individually.  Rich obviously has to focus on the driving part of the experience, which leaves me with a lot of time to communicate with God.  I get to pray for our safety and protection as well as our enjoyment as we travel the highways and byways.  This is always primary before and during any trip that we take whether it be on Harley or in the car.

Next on the list to God are all the people that are under my “prayer candle” at home.  This is a candle that I keep on the Italian granite island in my kitchen.  The candle rests inside a candle jar, and the jar sits inside a metal holder. When people put out requests for prayers for either mental, emotional, spiritual, or physical healing, I put their names on a piece of paper which goes inside the metal container under the candle.

When there are too many names on any one piece of paper, I start a new one on which I always write, “for all those who have gone before and…”  Under this I add the new names.  So once you make it under my prayer candle you’re there to stay!  When I light the candle I do so “with intention” that all those named be lifted up to the Lord while the candle is burning.  And as I go about my day and I see the candle I offer more prayers for everyone.

Once this is done I then turn over my sorrows and heartaches to God and ask that He relieve me of them, that He resolve them for me, if it be His will.  That last phrase is always the hard part of praying to God.  But if I am to practice total trust in the God of my understanding and His plans for me and others, then I must add that phrase, otherwise I am dictating to God what I think He should do!

And then it’s on to world intentions.  Now that could take up a trip to the moon and back!  We, mankind,  have made such a mess of this world and continue to do so today.  Sometimes I get a little despairing when I realize we are still making the same mistakes, doing the same things as we did thousands of years ago, and expecting different results.  I read somewhere that’s a true definition of insanity!!

I spend a lot of time asking God to please change peoples’ hearts, to lead them on the path of love and compassion. I ask him to remove hatred and greed and the quest for power.  I ask Him to take care of the defenseless ones and to bring food to the hungry.  I ask Him to shower humankind with His love, His grace, His light, and His energy.

So as you can see, my Harley time is put to great use.  It’s usually a very intense and focused time for me and the tears flow frequently.  I have accepted this as part of my mission in life and I am very willing to do it.  As I pray for others and their needs, I also benefit because I am deepening my own spiritual life and my relationship with God.  So it’s a real win-win situation for me and the tears are a small price to pay.

I almost forgot.  Some of my Harley prayers are simply words of worship and praise.  I forget who the singer is but the song says something like, “Our God is an awesome God”.  I like to let Him know that I see that and appreciate it.  And let me not forget the gratitude.  My soul is full of gratitude for the many blessings in my life, and so I thank God for all He has done and is about to do.  Amen!!       

Vignettes: Night Of Joy

For six years I have attended Night of Joy at one of the Disney Theme Parks. For those of you who do not know what Night of Joy is, let me inform you.  There are actually two nights that are spanned by this event and it usually takes place on the second Friday and Saturday in September.

The event itself is a series of concerts that are played simultaneously across the Park.  The musicians and singers are all Christian music performers.  On these concert nights the Park is closed earlier than usual to regular patrons and only Night of Joy ticket holders are allowed into the Park for the evening’s entertainment. 

I participated in my first Night of Joy in 2004 and it was held in Magic Kingdom.  Last year and this year the event was held in Disney’s Hollywood Studios.  Although the backdrop of Cinderella’s castle was always very magical, after two year’s experience at Hollywood Studios I think my preference lies with the latter.  There just seems to be easier access to and more space for the performers and the patrons.

I will never forget my first Night of Joy.  I had no idea what to expect.  I was not yet “into” Christian music.  I had heard some on the radio (check out 88.1 The Promise in the Jacksonville, FL area), and I liked most of it.  Some of the “heavy/hard rock” groups didn’t attract me, but that’s an age thing:-).

As I listened to the first concert get into full swing I noticed an immediate surge of energy all around me.  Don’t misunderstand me.  I have been to other “pop” concerts over the years and there is always energy with the music.  There is always energy with music, period.  It’s an expression of energy by the musicians and the audience responds in like manner.

But there was something different; a totally different kind of “buzz”.  I checked out all around me and realized that I was surrounded by young people, by old people, by couples, by families, by singles, by groups.  There was a cross ethnic, cross generational theme everywhere I looked.  But there was a focus, an excitement, an intenseness spritzing off of everyone, and it was very contagious.

Almost everyone, no matter what age group they belonged to, knew the words to the songs.  Almost everyone was singing out joyously.  There were people with one hand lifted to the sky.  Yet others had both hands raised.  I suddenly realized by about the third song that I was in the middle of one huge glorious worship service.

Who knows what different church denominations were represented there in that moment.  I know I saw some groups wearing T-shirts that identified themselves as belonging to a particular church or Christian youth group.  They were many and varied.  Yet the one unifying desire was to be there to worship and glorify God, Creator, Spirit.  A yearning, if you will, to recognize and acknowledge the One, the Supreme Being who gives us life.  It was electrifying.

I am not a “holy roller” (whatever that may be).  Although there are a few Bible verses that I can quote and reference and there are others that I can paraphrase, I am not someone who can spout from the Bible at any and every occasion.  I do not wear “sack cloth and ashes” and I really hope I don’t portray a “holier than thou” attitude. 

When I’m not dealing with that pesky de-pression stuff, I consider myself to be a fun-loving, joy-filled, and joyful person in my day-to-day dealings with life.  But that evening I experienced joy on a level that I had never experienced before.  It was the kind of joy that filled me up, raised me up, and had me overflowing with happiness and gratitude.  The kind of joy that had me laughing, smiling, singing (when I knew the words!), and crying all at one time.

My husband did not come with me that first year.  It had been a “girl’s night” treat with a couple of my girl friends.  But when the following year rolled around, based on my experience the previous year, he wanted to participate and we went as a family with our daughter.  He and I have not missed a year since, although because of last minute work travel in 2008 he had to surrender his ticket to one of my friends.

Each year has been different and yet each year has been the same.  The bands and the individual singers may change and rotate, but the energy and enthusiasm of the people who come to listen, sing, and worship remains the same.  And they come from all over.  Most of the States are represented and I have even met people from Canada, UK, and South America.  If you want to experience an uplifting, interdenominational worshipping of God, I highly recommend that you plan a Night of Joy at Disney.

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