Greetings from the calm before the incredible storm of our First Sunday in the new Sanctuary.
Last week I had what I would consider a thoroughly civic Monday. I began the day in the deep recesses of 201 Poplar and ended the afternoon in the chambers of the Shelby County Commission, serving as honorary chaplain and giving the invocation before the County Commissioners met.
I do believe God possibly ordained my time in 201 to make sure I didn’t let the whole County Chaplain thing go to my head. Well … upon arriving at 201, I was directed to Courtroom 3 with my fellow alleged violators so I could plead guilty to “following too closely” another vehicle. I considered arguing my case before the judge, but since the state of my mother-in-law's vehicle proved without a shadow of a doubt that I was in fact following the car in front of me too closely, I chose to throw myself on the mercy of the court.
After some discussion with the prosecutor, the judge overheard I was a pastor and asked me what church I served. I was prepared to have the same conversation I had hundreds of times the last 6+ years. It usually goes as follows:
Them: Where are you a Pastor?
Me: I’m at First Methodist Downtown
Them: (Blank stare because they obviously can’t place where it is)
Me: You know … the one that burned down awhile back.
Them: Oh yeah!! I know that one!
This time I was overwhelmingly pleased with how the conversation went.
Judge: Pastor Rambo, where do you pastor?
Me: I’m at first Methodist just around the corner.
Judge: Oh yes! Y’all are the one’s who I see doing so much to feed the homeless and help people.
Me: Yes! That’s us! We’d love to have you come join us anytime!
Despite the hefty fine, I was going to have to pay, I left the courtroom with a big smile and a properly proud heart for the church I am allowed to serve. I also realized that the conversation I have had so many times was now going to be changing.
For so many years now, we have been known throughout the city as the one who’s sanctuary burned down almost 12 years ago. Many people know much more about us, but our most identifying characteristic for most was the struggles of the fire and the journey of rebuilding the sanctuary.
While our new sanctuary was in the news quite a bit this last week and we are going to have an amazing service of worship this Sunday in our new sanctuary, I am absolutely confident what is going to define us as a congregation moving forward into the future will have absolutely nothing to do with bricks and mortar. My greatest desire for the people of First Church is that we would become most known throughout the city with our love and passion for Jesus and the way that love overflows into the lives of others.
As we celebrate such a magnificent milestone this Sunday, let’s all commit together to let God build up in us a stronger worshiping community equipped to proclaim the Gospel wherever we are.
Grace and Peace,