Good morning / afternoon / evening,
HAPPY NEW YEAR! God has allowed me to see another New Year’s Day and in a few months, if the Lord be pleased, I’ll celebrate another milestone – 55 years of life. God is good.
I want to share a few New Year’s thoughts and then I’m going to finish watching the Rose Parade (been there in person before, there is no parade in the world like it) and of course, it’s a football national holiday (more on that later).
1. Last night’s New Year’s Eve celebration between First Baptist Church, First Corinthian Baptist Church, and St. John A.M.E. Church was spectacular. It was the first time we’ve done this as a collaborative efforts led by the three pastors – Pastor Jerome Wilson (St. John), Pastor Leslie Whitlock (First Corinthian), and myself (First Baptist). It was greatly supported by our memberships and this was berthed over a meal at Buffalo Wild Wings. The three of us are not competitors – we are colleagues. We genuinely love each other as brothers in Christ and want to see each of our churches blessed. We were concerned that we wanted our fellowship to go beyond funerals – since the fabric of our community cuts across all three of our congregations. It was something to see. The choirs from each church were at their best. Pastor Wilson was a gracious host. Pastor Whitlock did an awesome job in preaching. We praise God for the offering, of which every dime was donated to the Resource Office of Social Ministries in Frankfort, a non-profit organization, coordinates the efforts of the religious community to aid the poor, providing accurate information to efficiently use resources and prevent duplication of assistance. Last night these three congregations donated $1,598.00. God be praised! There was plenty of food and after all were fed, the remaining food was donated to the local Homeless Shelter. It demonstrates the power of unity and relationship – when three churches, with a collective history of almost 500 years of collective history (FBC – 181; St. John – 175; First Corinthian – 138) – come together, we can do great and positive things for our community. I predict this NYE celebration will outgrow all of our sanctuaries in the near future.
2. Today is the day of semi-final games in the first-ever College Football playoff series. It’s been a long time coming. To me, it created some collateral damage – the excitement about other down games just hasn’t been there, for me, this year. Two games will determine who will play in next week’s championship bowl game at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.
ROSE BOWL – Florida State University Seminoles (13-0-0) vs. University of Oregon Ducks (12-1-0)
This is a classic battle of two high-octane teams with two future NFL quarterbacks. Jameis Winston has proven he’s the quarterback who can’t lose a game. With a quarterback rating of 88.1 and a 26-0-0 record as a starter, he has created an atmosphere of winning and daredevil offense. Coach Jimbo Fisher and his staff have crafted a championship season – BUT that road is going to end. The Ducks, who could give many an NFL team a run for their money, is going to win. Three reasons: First, Marcus Mariota, Heisman Trophy winner is Superman in a football uniform. Secondly, Oregon features a heart-attack offense. They seem to lull you into taking a lead and then will come back and score 21 plus points within minutes. Third, It’s just their time. Oregon has had fantastic teams every year that just fell short each year. But Mark Helfrich’s team looks up to the task. Ducks by 6.
SUGAR BOWL – Alabama Crimson Tide (12-1-0) vs. Ohio State Buckeyes (12-1-0). Let’s cut to the chase. Ohio State’s selection was controversial to begin with, as they sneaked in under the wire with a third string quarterback. How do you answer Alabama’s offense, defense, coaching, and undoubtedly a sea of supporters in New Orleans? Roll Tide. Alabama by 15.
3. My condolences to those who are dealing with death in their families across the country and those congregations who are dealing with the homegoing of their pastors. Of special note, I extend my condolences to my Portland pastor, Dr. Johnny Pack, IV and his family during their time of bereavement. May the Lord grant the families strength, compassion and love.
So, that’s it. Have an awesome first day of the year!