From the Pastor’s Desk
I rarely find myself on the debit side of adding my two cents worth. But in reflecting back over yesterday’s long prayed-for Grand Opening, I’m finding myself pondering over a different dilemma. How do you capture an event for those not in attendance and give it the justice it deserves? So many Kodak moments keep flashing in my mind’s eye that I’m virtually blinded by these reflections. It truly was one of those “You had to have been there” experiences.
Permit me to forgo all the expected editorial, like the good food, the warm fellowship and the Christ-exalting worship. In these brief moments, allow me to relive some of my more personal moments.
My first reflection invites us all to the front of the sanctuary immediately following the worship hour (and a half). A senior-to-me woman approached me, and as we locked eyes, she said, “Do you remember me?” Now here’s where this brief reunion pulls back the curtain that typically veils the mysterious, metaphysical workings of the Holy Spirit. Just a few days prior to this reunion, this woman’s family “just happened” to come to my mind. I hadn’t thought about them but sporadically since leaving the area where they yet live. That was 1993. I responded, “Doris! Wow! How did you ever hear about this event??” She went on to explain the circumstance that knocks the stuffings (can’t get the upcoming Thanksgiving holyday out of my mind) out of the rather abstruse rationalizations of the diehard skeptics. She introduced me to her sister-in-law who happens to live right up the road, whom she happened to visit this particular weekend, who happened to leaf through the local, weekly newspaper just yesterday, the Key, when her eyes happened to light upon our celebration advertisement. Intrigued, Doris’ relative drew her attention to our ad. She saw my name and blurted out, “No, there couldn’t be two Bob Hamptons!” (I know what you’re thinking. You’re perseverating over the dire consequences if there were.) This brief reunion contented my soul, not merely with all the nostalgia and catching-up, but more so, with the gentle reminder that the invisible activities of the Holy Spirit can be clearly seen through the eyes of faith.
A second reflection occurred as an “interruption” to that prior encounter. As I was talking with Doris, out of the corner of my eye, I observed an unfamiliar-to-me face snapping a series of photographs. She then jeopardized the integrity of her camera in asking to take my picture. In our ensuing dialogue, she unveiled that she was “baptized as an infant in this church”. It was more of a homecoming for her than a Grand Opening. This brief exchange carried my thoughts into the future when there will be the Grandest Homecoming of them all – when Jesus, Who is now “preparing a place for [His own], will come back and take us to be with Him”, to His eternal Home in Heaven – better than any building down here.
One final, personal reflection. I met a young couple who are also parents to three beautiful children. They visited yesterday, not merely to share in our celebration, but to take a closer and more purposeful look at who we are and what we believe. Why? Because they are looking for a church home. In our few moments of casual conversation, it became clear to me that this young family gets it. They recognize the essential nature of belonging to a group where love permeates, fellowship abounds and Jesus is lifted high. Will we be the right match for this family? Only time will tell. But this I know: this family will be a right match for whatever church they commit to. For in those few moments speaking with both mom and dad separately, they inspired me with hope for a greater tomorrow. And by this I do not mean necessarily for Faith Family Fellowship, but for Jesus’ Greater Church! It was their six year old, however, who filled my cup of hope to overflowing for the sake of God’s Kingdom when he simply asked, “Will you be open next Sunday?” “Yes, young man, and we pray for many, many Sundays to come.” (Maybe, he’s lining himself up for my job when I retire?? Hmm.)