05 March 2008

Among the Believers

Sometimes my dad will stop by and tell me about a church where he has preached. While he is no longer a serving Adventist minister, he often fills in for pastors around the KY-TN Conference.

"I preached to the believers in X-town today," he will often say.

On Saturday evening Jenny got a call from our District Superintendent, asking if one of us would fill in for a pastor with the flu. Jenny was already committed to meet a patient after church, so I was the natural choice. The church, I was told, was in Tucker's Crossroads.

Tucker's Crossroads is the kind of place that used to be common in Tennessee. There is a general store, a Methodist church, eight to ten houses, and then farm after farm after farm. The church was one of those quaint, whitewashed structures one often sees on drives through the Tennessee countryside (the sign said it had been built in 1879). Seventeen people were waiting for me when I arrived.

I had a hymn picked out. I noticed that the pianist had to look around to find the "new" 30-year-old hymnal, and I assumed that they were much more comfortable singing out of the older, 60-year-old hymnals. Ellie read the scripture, we had two opening songs, and then I was up.

I preached on John 2, building on a blog post I made about two years ago. I don't get a lot of comments on my spiritual blog posts, but it's nice to have a place to write my thoughts, and it's a great source to draw from when I am asked to speak, whether it's about John or Einstein or anything.

The basic gist of the original post was that Jesus' first miracle--turning water into wine--was echoed in his final miracle, turning wine into blood. As I spoke, it occurred to me that these three liquids so wonderfully describe the three parts of the Bible.

The water is the law given to Moses, which stresses cleansing and by which we are freed from sin through the act of baptism.

The wine is Jesus own ministry among us. It is sweet--almost intoxicating when you really think about it.

The blood is the saving grace he provided with his sacrifice and confirmed with the Resurrection. After blood there is no more fluid, only spirit.

Anyway, it was a privilege to share that message with "the believers" in Tuckers' Crossroads. It was the first time I had spoken for a Divine Service in exactly ten years (my last sermon was given in Globe, Arizona). After church, Ellie and I explored the back roads and somehow found our way back to Lebanon.


Johnny Workentine said...

What a beautiful story.


Meg said...

Some great ideas here JD-wish I could have heard your sermon. I've been asked to preach this year which I find very scary!