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The Pastor’s Piece – March 19, 2023

The Pastor’s Piece


March 19, 2023

Last week, my wife and I were on vacation in Florida. Our daughter, who lives in Tennessee, joined us and we made a week of it.

The first thing we did was pick her up at the airport and then we went straight to The Melting Pot restaurant. The Melting Pot is not only good eating, but it’s also entertainment. It starts out with a bowl centered on top of your table with a stove burner under it. When the waiter comes, he turns on the burner and pretty soon it’s sizzling hot. He then dumps some shredded cheese in it, and in a couple of minutes, you have melted cheese. Then, he brings out a tray of bread all cut up in bite size pieces. There’s pretzel bread, sour dough, and other bites of homemade-like bread. You take the long skewers they provide and stab the bread pieces and dip them in the melted cheese, then set it on your plate to be consumed using your fork. The bread is followed with fruit and vegetables, later comes the meat, and finally they replace the cheese fondue with chocolate and bring out a whole bunch of little bites of desserts to dip in the melted chocolate. Things like Rice Krispies squares, something called Oreo dusted marshmallows (which are marshmallows rolled in Oreo cookie crumbs – yum!) cheesecake, cookies, brownies, miniature cream puffs, angel food cake, and a few other delectable sweets to favor the palate. By then you’re exhausted and ready to go home.

The next day we took in the afternoon matinee and went to The Jesus Revolution movie. I highly recommend it. It’s a throwback to the late 60’s early 70’s era of societal uncertainty and the younger generation’s search for truth and meaning. It’s based on the true story of the life of Greg and Cathe Laurie. Some of the scenes – mainly the cars, took me right back to my childhood. 

The following day we drove down the Florida coast a few miles, found a quiet spot, wandered onto the beach, and set up our chairs and enjoyed some time with our toes in the sand and the sun on our faces. It was especially enjoyable because we knew we were getting out of two snow storms that week. 

The day after that, we got tickets to a Spring Training baseball game between the Minnesota Twins and the Boston Red Sox. It was a beautiful 80 degree, sunny day at the ballpark. The beauty of Spring Training is that the games count for nothing as far as the standings go. It’s important to the players – especially those who are trying to make the cut, but for the average fan, he is there simply to enjoy the event. Since Covid, and the major leagues shutting down, and then turning into political activists – I haven’t been interested in any professional sports. This was the first time in three years I’ve even thought about baseball. But it was good to be back. To soak up the sun and atmosphere and talk statistics and trivia with the fans around us was good.

We met some new friends that week, and as is usually the case with my wife and I, the conversation eventually got around to God. We discovered they were believers and when we told them I was a pastor they became especially interested. They invited us over to their house that evening for a “house blessing” party. About a dozen of us assembled at 7:30. Come to find out, the house blessing party was actually a small group gathering from their church. The whole group was Latino except us. Most of them could not speak English. So our new friend, the one who invited us, offered to be the interpreter for the evening. And what an evening it was! A young man played a little keyboard, their pastor led and we sang several songs in Spanish. I know very little Spanish but as we sang, I kept hearing over and over the word “gracias.” That indicated to me that they were singing songs of thanksgiving and praise. When the pastor spoke, the interpreter interpreted for us. It was an amazing evening. Afterwards, we ate snacks and conversed for a while and they invited us to church on Sunday. 

So, Sunday morning we found our way to their church. It was a group of about 60 people – all smiling and making us feel like we were the most important people on the planet. We took our place and they began singing worship songs in Spanish. The lead singer was very talented as she would alternate between singing in English (for our benefit) and Spanish for the benefit of everyone else in the room. There was a keyboard player, drummer, bass guitarist and four singers. The music was amazing. We sang for over an hour. Again, the words gracias, mucho grande, Jesus Christo and other familiar words appeared repeatedly on the screen indicating these songs were songs of praise and thanksgiving. 

After the singing ended, the pastor got up with his interpreter and preached a really good sermon on our identity in Christ. What was interesting was that the keyboard player and the drummer never stopped playing during the whole sermon – which went on for an hour. The pastor would talk and as he picked up momentum, so would the musicians. As he got louder, they got louder until they all simultaneously reached a crescendo. Then they would wind it down a bit, then start over. While this was going on, the pastor’s wife would blow a horn (similar to the Hebrew shofar horn from Bible days). This was a unique worship service for us. We didn’t understand the language, but music, laughter, and joy is a universal language. We worshiped and praised God together, all united by the same Holy Spirit in a way we’ve never experienced before. I suspect the praise service in heaven will be a bit like that – only a million times more! 

“The voices of a million angels, could not express my gratitude. All that I am, and ever hope to be, I owe it all to you. To God be the glory for the things He has done. With His blood He has saved me. With His power, He reached down and raised me. To God be the glory for the things He has done.” (Andrae Crouch – My Tribute – To God Be The Glory).