This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. Save us, we pray, O Lord! O Lord, we pray, give us success! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! We bless you from the house of the Lord. The Lord is God, and he has made his light to shine upon us. Bind the festal sacrifice with cords, up to the horns of the altar! PSALM 118: 24-27
My friends, today I remember my very first sermon ever. It was delivered two decades ago in a veteran’s hospital in Coatesville, PA.
I was asked to cover for a fellow Gideon who was called away on business. I decided to deliver a message from Isaiah 53; a scripture that was comfort food for this novice being asked to deliver God’s word.
When I arrived that evening, I was greeted by one of the staff and ushered into the chapel. Ironically, the chapel was about the same size as the main floor in the Sparta Church. It was empty! I was given a lapel mic and told that I should not expect to see to many people. The staff person pointed to a camera mounted on the back wall, and explained that when the red light was on, my message would be broadcasting to every patient room in the facility. No pressure!
When the service began, it was an organist, two patients, a camera with a single red eye, and me. I don’t remember how it went that night, but I remember the feeling of trying to speak to two people seated in the sanctuary; It was very hard.
Today, I preach God’s Word to eight people (2 Tech people and 6 worship ministry people), and a camera mounted on the face of the balcony wall. As I preach, I will know that there are hundreds of people watching this service online. I will imagine their faces and where they usually sit when we are not on corona lockdown. I will see Henry and Lolly, Abbey and Ashley, Bud and Ed, Karen and Linda, and Scott and Kathy; all sitting in the balcony. I will see Andrew and Joe, Bud and Kathy, Bev and Frank, Laura and Peter, Richard and John, Nancy and Roy, and Helen and Ernie; all sitting on the main floor. There are so so many more, and I love them (you) all!
What a difference from that VA hospital two decades ago, where I knew nobody. You all bring me comfort, because I believe that where two or three are gathered, “42” is there!
Finally, I leave you with a picture that was sent to me on Wednesday evening by, you guessed it, The Flying Scotsman.