Pastor Don's Journal Articles
Getting to the Point
We went to see "The Nutcracker", maybe the most popular and accessible of all ballets, at the Warner Theatre on Saturday night. Two young girls in our church, Elizabeth and SaraBella Michael, were in the Washington Ballet company's cast, and they invited us to attend. I had heard Tchaikovsky's “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” before, of course, but this was my first time to see the whole production. Audrey and I were both mesmerized by the sets, the costumes, the dancing, and...the children. The WashPost review of it yesterday said that “The Nutcracker" relies "not on the strength of its ballerina but on the cleverness and adorability of its least-experienced and littlest dancers". Yes -- but those older, professional dancers were exquisite, too. I think that ballet, with the ballerina on tip toe, twirling this way and leaping that way, is the most beautiful and artistic of all forms of dance. Catch this Christmas favorite before the end of the month if you can.
We got to the point of our church's mission the next morning, as First Baptist held its annual March for Missions. And again, the children (the same ones I mentioned above, and scores of others) were the real stars, as they led off with their enthusiastic parade of flags. For me, and for many of our people, one of the high points of the entire year! I haven't received a report yet on the total given so far, but I'm sure we made a great start. Thank you!
I baptized a man in the first service and, beforehand, I was out in the congregation, as usual, speaking to folks. Derek had invited a dozen family members (from NC, SC, and Tennessee) to witness his immersion and they had arrived early. After greeting them, I felt compelled to explain the unusual nature of the service we were about to have. I explained the “March", and that this is a major aspect of our commitment to missions. "You will have to get out into the aisle with us" (because the tight pews require it if there's to be any movement)", I said with apologies. "But you do not have to give. Just put an empty envelope in the box". They smiled. And then pulled out their yellow Lottie Moon offering envelopes. "Oh, he picked these up on Friday for each of us and told us to put money in them. Told us to prepare to March, too.” I like that!
The most important point in any sermon is, toward the end of it, when I begin to call for a response. To encourage my listeners with what they need to do about what they have been hearing. To challenge them with the call of Jesus to open up their hearts and to let Him come in (Revelation 3:20), or to invite them to present themselves for membership in our church. Perhaps to seal some other spiritual decision by coming forward. Public response during the song we sing is difficult -- those tightly arranged pews again -- but I have to believe that The Holy Spirit is working just the same and bringing people to the point of some kind of commitment. Be in prayer during those last few minutes, if not during the entire message. Be sensitive to those around you and ask God to work in their lives the same as in yours. Linger a few minutes after the service is over and strike up conversations with the folks you do not recognize, maybe a person you shook hands with earlier in the service. The point of that little exercise every week after all. Experts say that it's the 10 minutes after the Benediction that are the most important of all!
I love you, and love being your pastor during these exciting days.