Monday, July 25, 2011

Baptism and Bible

Sunday the 24th of July A.D. (Anno Domini, "In the Year of Our Lord") 2011 became "Gateway Christian Sunday" for yours truly. Not necessarily by my design either.

"The Lord works in mysterious ways. . . ."

I had indeed planned to attend morning Worship at Gateway Christian Church, an independent CC which was founded in the late 1990s. It now has a building on the north side of IH 24 between Exits 11 and 8, northeast of Clarksville. Scott Witt is the Pastor.

Ron and Judy Fichter, who live near me, picked me up and took me to Gateway. Once there I snacked on coffee and pastries -- including a very tasty lemon-flavored mini-cupcake -- while chatting with old and new friends.

Then, when the worship service began, it commenced with a baptism. The Independent Christian Churches, like the Disciples of Christ and the (a cappella) Churches of Christ, practice the form of baptism used in New Testament times: immersion (the true meaning of the original Greek word) following confession of faith. Today's baptism was of a boy by his father. This immediately caused me to remember that I had baptised both of my children; those two immersions are cherished and valued memories for yours truly!

The baptistry at Gateway is in the floor of what I'd call the "stage", where the band performs during singing and the pastor can stand to deliver the sermon. And apparently there's a trench behind the water tank, where the baptiser can stand and only get his forearms wet while dunking the candidate. What a smart idea! Whenever I've done a baptism I had to wear "hip waders" to stay that dry -- or get wet myself while immersing a candidate in a lake!

Pastor Scott's sermon was a continuation of an in-depth series on the Nazarene's Sermon on the Mount. Today it was "Refuse to Worry" and covered Matthew 6:25-34. As Pastor Scott walked up onto the "stage", the sound system broadcast a recording of the pop hit "Don't Worry Be Happy". Early in the message I seized opportunity to quietly say the name of another song, from the flick The Lion King: "Hakuna Matata". Which expresses much the same thing as the other song AND Jesus' teaching.

Pastor Scott's words were an exposition of the meaning of the Gospel verses, along with supporting verses from elsewhere in the Bible. His method reminded me strongly of Dr. John MacArthur of the radio show "Grace to You".

Well, my experience of Gateway didn't end with the benediction that closed Worship. You see, among the several Bible studies the congregation offers is a Sunday evening supper and study which Pastor Scott leads. Last evening it took place at the home of Scott Hollingsworth (normally it's at the "parsonage"). Now, it just "happens" that THIS Scott is the man who lent me a Saturn SUV to temporarily be my transportation to and from work! So I already knew where his house was, north of Clarksville and northwest of the church. We feasted on a delicious and sumptuous potluck (mostly) meal, which included hot dogs and bratwurst grilled out on the Hollingsworth deck near the above-ground pool. (Wish I'd known; I'd have carried my swim-trunks with me!) And I DO have a strong taste for my brats!

The study which followed the supper covered the final half of the Letter of Jude. According to tradition this short epistle was written by a half-brother of Jesus. Another half-brother of the Lord wrote the Letter of James (and not either of the two Jameses among the Twelve Apostles). The study went in such a way that there was plenty of verbal interaction (rather than merely Pastor Scott lecturing). And afterward we had a time for prayer. I shared my deep thanks for living again in Clarksville and for my job at the State Library in Nashville.

Not having my swim-trunks I didn't take up host Scott's invitation to stay awhile and swim, as did some of the others. Instead I headed for home, across the city on Donna Drive. As I drove I felt deep contentment and peace of mind.

Which is what getting together with one's brother and sister Christians is supposed to do! Amen?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

An Eventful and Memorable Weekend

Have I truly moved from Nashville to Clarksville? Dear reader, you might not know it from all the hours I spent in Music City last weekend!

Beginning Saturday: I drove from C'ville to my work at the Tennessee State Library & Archives building in downtown Nashville, signing in at seven in the morning. It was what I've been told is a typical Saturday: busy! Certainly we served more Patrons than on Thursday or Friday, same shift time (7am to 2:30pm). BTW, I truly feel as tho' I'm a State employee now; Thursday I received my photo ID and Friday my State Internet system ID and password -- now I can do work-related e-mail.

After work I drove to Vanderbilt University's central library building, to do Internet stuff -- personal e-mail, Facebook, blogging -- and listen on-line to one of my favorite radio broadcasts, "Front Porch Fellowship". It's an hour show featuring the best in Bluegrass Gospel music, hosted by Les Butler on Solid Gospel 105 (FM). You can catch it at 4pm Saturdays, repeated same time Sundays.

I topped off my Music City Saturday by returning to downtown, specifically to the Nashville Convention Center, where I joined in the opening worship service for the biennial General Assembly of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), the denomination thru which I participate in the universal Church, and which denomination ordained and endorsed me to Army chaplaincy (1981-84). I saw several D o C folk I knew, both from Texas and from Tennessee (or formerly from Tenn., now from Ohio). The preliminary music and brief speeches as well as the actual worship included hymns and songs. As one speaker commented, "Singing is NOT a spectator sport for us Disciples!"

Sunday morning the Tenth I drove IH 24 from C'ville to Nashville again, for choir rehearsal, breakfast and an early (8:30am) worship at my church, Eastwood CC(DC). It was SO GREAT to see and speak with my Eastwood brothers and sisters again! The sanctuary was packed to the walls with worshipers -- I hate to imagine how over-the-top SRO the "regular-time" service would be! But members and our many visitors (including former Eastwood pastors) got treated to a rousing choir Anthem of "Lord, Here Am I" (hence my showing up extra-early for rehearsal), other fantastic musical offerings, and a fine sermon by Mike Kinnamon, titled "Why 'Tell It' Isn't Enough". "Tell It!" is the theme of the Assembly taking place right now in Music City.

Don't get me wrong! I love Clarksville, and am glad to be dwelling in the Queen City. But for this special weekend Music City was almost my home again!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Independence Day, A.D. 2011

My first national holiday since moving back to Clarksville turned into a winner in more ways than one!

It didn't start out that way. Neighborhood fireworks demos commenced several nights before the Fourth and went wild the evening of Sunday the Third. As I sat outdoors and observed, memories of a certain very tragic Independence Day or two or three in my life crowded in. I remembered 1968 (or so), searching for two little boys who lived across the street and were missing, while the traditional Boise fireworks display painted the sky overhead; they were found drowned in the major irrigation canal nearby. I remembered 1984, trying to give my son a happy holiday while sorrowing over the stillbirth of his first sister. Tears came to my eyes while 2011 fireworks erupted.

But the actual holiday itself, 4 July A.D. 2011, was an easy, relaxed and happy celebration. My daughter and her hubby took me with them to his family's reunion on the family farm in eastern Houston County, southwest of Clarksville. We enjoyed grilled burgers and dogs, fries, slaw, chips, brownies and so forth. There was a light rain, but it was brief, and then the sky cleared, and a refreshing breeze sprang up. It was pleasant to be outdoors, whether swinging on the front porch during the rain or listening to reminiscences and family gossip out in the back yard under tall old trees.

I attempted to make some phone calls on my Verizon phone, to no avail. Apparently the farm sits in a non-covered area. But upon returning to C'ville I discovered that I'd had two messages left in my voicemail. One was my mother, the other an offer to lend me a car (to get to my new job in Nashville). I answered both, while the holiday fireworks started up in earnest. The latter led to arrangements to obtain the borrowed car, which solves the transportation/commuting dilemma I had faced. Hooray!

Plus I got a phone call from my sister Debbie in Idaho. So all around the Fourth of July Independence Day holiday this year was enjoyable and memorable!