I preached my last sermon at 1800 S. Gramercy Place yesterday. Our congregation has purchased new facilities. And we will begin meeting there this coming Sunday, God willing. Praise the Lord! But I had to first get past the overwhelming task of preaching this last sermon and leading this last service.
For the most part, the service was a normal Lord’s Day Worship Service at MSMBC. We did not do a lot of special elements. I did not want there to be the spirit of a funeral in the service. This place of worship means a lot to so many of us. But our bond in Christ and to one another is much bigger than this geographic location. So I thought it would be appropriate to just let us worship, rather than focusing a lot of the fact that this was the last meeting we would have. I guess time will tell if I handled it the right way.
I struggled all week about what to preach. I even spent a day trying to find a way to get out of preaching! I just couldn’t wrap my mind around what to say. (Boy, did I wish that I was in a extended preaching series. But I plan to fix that this coming Sunday, when I begin preaching through the Sermon on the Mount.). Ultimately, I worked on five different things this past week, trying to land on what I should preach.
I finally landed on Philippians 2:25-30, preaching a message entitled, “The Ties that Bind.” I argued that (1) Personal concern, (2) faithful service, and (3) true fellowship bind a church together in Christian love.
As the service closed, we sung, “Walk with Me, Lord.” It is a song my father used to sing all the time. For the record, my father could not sing. He used to joke, “Contrary to popular belief, I can carry a tune. I just can’t put it down.”
Amazingly, I did not collapse into tears. With God’s help, I was able to maintain my composure, even though it was a rather emotional service for me.
Crystal was in church yesterday! She has not attended since a few weeks before our baby was born. I didn’t want to think about what it would have been like for me to have to go through this service without Crystal. Thank God I didn’t have to. Her presence always has a calming influence on me. At critical moments, her presence gives me a sense that everything is going to be alright. I believe this is one of God’s graces to me.
Last night, I preached the “Real Joy Youth Crusade” at the Second Baptist Church in Santa Ana (near Disneyland). I have great respect and affection for Pastor John McReynolds. And it is always an honor to be in his presence. He is a man of God. And I always learn something when I am with him.
Pastor McReynolds has been preaching me since I was 15-years-old. And he has been a constant encouragement to my ministry over the years. When he asks me to do something, the answer is immediately yes. And Second Baptist is one of the great churches of our area. I praise God for every opportunity to worship and fellowship with them. Last night was no different.