I have been attending worship services since I was about two weeks old. Most, but not all, of these have been services in a Baptist tradition (an American Baptist tradition). But this does not mean that this worship has been similar. I have worshipped, and led worship, that might be considered “traditional” – with hymns, responsive readings, pastoral prayers, and sermons preached from the pulpit. I have worshipped, and led worship, that might be considered “liturgical” or high church/high steeple – with printed and spoken liturgy, pipe organ, written prayers, robed clergy and choir. I have worshiped, and led worship, that might be considered “contemporary” – with praise bands, choruses, video projection and clips, a preacher standing among the people, extemporaneous prayers and a few “amens” from the congregation. I have worshiped, and led worship, that might be considered “contemplative” – with Taize music and chants, long periods of silence and prayer, warm visuals, candlelight and quiet background music.
These services have occurred in the humble country Baptist church of my upbringing, suburban and urban sanctuaries, modern worship space, a new church start that met in an exercise facility, outdoors under the stars and in a cave, in old rustic chapels at camp and in state parks, and in the beautiful sacred space at 3300 Fairlawn Drive in Columbus, Indiana. The places contributed to the worship experience, of that there is no doubt; but not more so than the people. I’ve worshipped in small groups, medium size groups, and large groups; with family and loved ones, covenant members of the same congregation, and complete strangers. I learned to worship sitting next to my Grandmother and my parents, my attention being directed to the hymnal, the sermon, or the prayer. I have been blessed to collaborate on worship with some truly gifted servants of Christ. Continue reading
The prayer focus for today on our FBC Columbus prayer calendar invites us to pray “to see as God sees”. Let’s stop and think about this for a moment.
What does God see? Everything. All things. Each one. From the smallest to the largest, the least to the greatest. God sees all.
How can we possibly see all that God sees? Continue reading
There is a phrase that appears twice in Acts 2:46&47: “day by day”. The first time it says, “Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. That is followed up in the next sentence with: “And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.”
This is a picture of life in the early church. It gives us some insight into what the disciples of Jesus did in the days after Pentecost. It’s always been an inviting picture to me, as the church sort of found its way together and enjoyed the blessings of God’s work in their midst. It’s the text I’ve invited our congregation to pray through this week as we continue a prayer focus related to a revitalization initiative we are sharing.
I’ve never been very good at living “day by day”, have you? Continue reading
This time of year always reminds me of my childhood, growing up in central Indiana. Childhood can be a grand experience – perhaps only fully appreciated in hind sight. My own childhood was safe, happy and filled with things that I enjoyed.
As the youngest of five children in my family of origin, and living in a rural setting, I was often my own best play mate. I utilized my imagination to fully engage in daily basketball games on the court in the backyard. I played all the players – tossing the ball to myself from myself – giving myself names of South Putnam High School or Purdue University players I admired, and narrating the radio call of the game in my head – or out loud.
And you know what? I never lost a game! Continue reading
The First Baptist Church “Hope & Pray Moving Company” was at it again earlier today. That’s the name I’ve come up with for our group of volunteers who help persons in the congregation move their household from one home to the next. I think our motto is “We hope it fits and pray it gets there!”. Hey, you get what you pay for, right?
Seriously, in my time as pastor of this congregation I’ve watched, helped and appreciated this rotating crew of men and women who just jump in when a need arises to assist with a move. We’ve helped move people from their home to an assisted living facility, from one home to another, from an apartment into a first home, out of a home that was flooded, into a moving truck that’s headed cross country – you name it, we’ve probably done it. An appeal goes out, and people show up! It’s amazing – and rewarding. Continue reading