by Robert Earl Houston
This has been a rough week for our nation. Any pastor in his or her right mind will tell you that when a week has been difficult for the congregation that the pulpit is not exempt. That was the case as we can say “we survived” the week’s news of shootings in Connecticut, Chicago, California, and other places across the nation. The Holy Spirit allowed us an exceptional weekend with him.
We had four rows of pews sectioned off in the rear of the church due to the remodeling project. We have three floor to ceiling pillars in anticipation to the work that will be starting this week. Our Construction team has been able to work Monday-Friday and restore the sanctuary as best as possible for Sunday morning.
The 8:00 a.m. service has really taken off. The numbers are becoming more and more consistent and we always receive a lot of positive feedback about the service. In my youth, my home church had an early service and the Associate Ministers preached the service and on a good day there may have been 20 people present. This service is very different for one reason – at my home church the pastor never preached the service. In this service, the pastor preaches most of the time.
And what a service it was. We sang congregational hymns and prepared for the Word. I preached from last week’s text (imagine that) – Matthew 2:16. In ight of the circumstances of the shootings, I preached the question “Why?” In the sermon I tried to crawl into the mind of Herod, a similar murderer of children. I suggested that the reason why there is evil in the world is simply – sin. Secondly, I suggested that both Herod and the Connecticut shooter utilized “sin-plus” – sin on top of sin in order to justify actions. Lastly, Herod failed to get close to Jesus. However, for somebody this is your opportunity, your chance, your privilege to come to Jesus. It was a very well received word.
Deacon J.D. Smith kicked off my Sunday School class, the Married Couples class and we had a good turnout! I was very pleased with it. Then at 11 a.m., Praise and Worship flowed as Minister Sheniqua Roberts led us in “God’s Amazing Grace” and then took us into what has become our official church song, Professor Patrick Bradley’s “I Know Something About God’s Grace.” That song brought tears to my eyes. Praise God.
The Men of Praise choir sang us happy with “I Can’t Help Myself I’ve Got to Praise Him” (my arrangement) and “Jesus, O What a Wonderful Child.” However, my voice was not like it was at 8 a.m., but the Lord was the kind. The congregation was very responsive.
Today the church blessed me with love gifts for Christmas and what a tremendous blessing they continue to be to me and my family. I’m humbly grateful to serve as their soul-watcher.
At 5:00 p.m. we gathered for a unique Christmas experience that was completely driven by the men of the Church. We heard music by Deacon James Jacobs, Deacon Alonzo McCoy, Minister Timothy Taylor, Deacon Bill Jones & Company, Minister C.J. Calhoun, the Men of Praise, and a reading by Deacon Carroll Young. Praise God for the night!
On to the NFL HIGHLIGHTS . . .
– Cincinnati beat Philadelphia. Who couldn’t? Their season is done.
– Atlanta blew out NY Giants. They’re playoff ready.
– Denver ran all over Baltimore. See above game – Manning is a beast!
– Green Bay beat Chicago – Alex and Company do it again. Chicago’s ready for a coaching change.
– Washington beat Cleveland – The Redskins are for real. I wonder what team the backup QB will be leading next year?
– Miami wins the Florida Bowl vs. Jacksonville – but who cares?
– New Orleans demolished Tampa Bay – was never close.
– Minnesota beat St. Louis – both teams will be at home in January.
– Arizona beats Detroit – see Minnesota vs. St. Louis.
– Seattle smashes Buffalo – this is animal abuse.
– Carolina sends San Diego packing – or should I say their coach packing?
– Dallas wins! That’s all you need to know!!!!
– Oakland . . . who cares?
– New England ran out of gas vs. San Francisco.