And when the priests came out of the Holy Place, a cloud filled the house of the Lord, so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled the house of the Lord. 1 Kings 8:10-11
Our forefathers used to call this “the presidency of the Holy Spirit,” when the Lord himself would preside over the gathering of his people in such a way as gently, wonderfully to take charge.
I have seen this. Doubtless, many of you have as well.
One Sunday morning at Lake Avenue Church in Pasadena — we were a mainstream church of business people, school teachers, scientists, real estate agents, stay-at-home moms — my dad was preaching. I was eleven or twelve years old, and not paying much attention. But then, with no prompting from the pulpit at all — dad was minding his own business, preaching Christ, and he wasn’t even in the final, appeal section of the sermon — Ed Fischer quietly and with no self-display rose from his place in the choir, went down to the communion table at the front, and knelt in prayer. He felt that he needed to get right with God. Then his wife Lita got up from her place and quietly joined him there. I thought, “That’s odd.” But then I was surprised to see many people from all over the church going forward and kneeling as one there at the front in an overwhelming response to the ministry of the gospel going out in the power of God. There was no emotionalism. It was quiet, dignified, even solemn, but very beautiful. Dad was caught off-guard. He hadn’t planned on this or asked for it or even foreseen it. God stepped in, filling the church with an unusual display of his glory, and dad yielded to the presidency of the Holy Spirit. He stepped back from the pulpit and went to prayer. The organist had the presence of mind to begin playing quietly, appropriately. The service took a surprising direction, in the mercy of God. And although this experience was no panacea, and the next morning everyone went back to work in the usual way, still, God had visited us. God bent down and kissed us that Sunday, bringing us closer to himself, clearing away some problems, opening up new possibilities.
We could never be the same again.