When I was in Florida earlier this week for a conference, I stumbled upon a magnolia tree that immediately transported me to my grandmother’s backyard when I was five years old. Though the tree was not in bloom (you can see the photo), I could somehow smell the tree’s blooms from my happy memories. Do our memories have noses? Please clear that up for me. In any event, I’m sure that you enjoy reliving special moments like I do. The tree that I was smelling was hundreds of miles away in Etowah, Tennessee. And that lush green lawn at Mamaw’s provided more fun than the proverbial barrel of monkeys.
Having Jon Tello as our guest this week has been great. I’ve relived our Mexico Mission (Monterrey) in the summer of 2008. I included a couple of photos in case you’re interested. One is of Jon’s wife and partner in ministry, Erika. Maybe next time Jon comes to Paducah he can bring the whole family.
All nostalgia aside, Vision Weekend is about looking forward. Yes, we’re building on God’s longstanding legacy of faithfulness in our midst – but we’re also branching out in faith for tomorrow. It reminds me of Isaiah 43:19, where God announces and inquires: “Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?” For Israel, when those words were spoken, they had lost everything. They were exiled and homesick, and the Lord was giving them another chance.
What can we learn from our history? One lesson is certain: We can’t depend on past success. We need God’s renewed strength and His fresh provision for every chapter. We know from our study of Exodus that God’s people had seen His great victories on their behalf. But by the time of Isaiah 43, they need a new miracle and a new victory. From the first Passover, to the crossing of the Red Sea, to the conquering of the Land of Canaan, to the building of the temple, the children of Israel had seen God’s mighty and gracious hand at work in ways too numerous to mention. But now they need their God, again.
So do we.
Tonight (Friday) at 6:00 we’ll make some new happy memories at the Variety Show. You don’t need to eat dinner in advance – pizza will be served. Sunday morning we’ll celebrate “tomorrow” and delight in God’s unique call upon the life of this great church – the people called First Baptist Paducah – as best we can discern His heart and plan for us. Delicious brunch foods at 9:00 a.m. One combined worship service at 10:00. Evening worship starting at 6:00 in the Great Room, featuring a call to action by Jon, and the music of Hearts of Saints. Please don’t miss any of it!
Maybe you’re not sure about tomorrow (Saturday) morning because you can’t figure out how Christianity and the arts intersect. I urge you to join us at 9:00 anyway – I think you’ll be glad you did. We live in a community where the arts significantly impact the culture. We need to know how Christ would have us minister, serve, and witness for such a time (and place) as this.
Have I told you recently how absolutely thrilled I am to serve as your senior pastor? The blessing is all mine. You are loved. And by Sunday evening, and the conclusion of Vision Weekend, I hope that you will also have taken the time to enjoy a tree. (That will make sense by Sunday.)