Monday, April 15, 2013

Sunday Morning

As the last chord from the pipe organ faded, Rev. Tuxedo rose from the stately wooden chair on the dais and approached the lectern. In a voice that was reverberant, reverent, and dignified he began.
"Beloved, we are drawn now to a subject of utmost importance to the souls of all present—for the words of our Lord as recorded in the Gospel of St. John, Chapter III, verse 3, declare:
'Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except one be born anew, he cannot see the kingdom of God.'"
"Beloved, our Lord himself declares in no uncertain terms that 'You must be born anothen' which is variously translated as 'again' or 'above.'"

Down the road, Bro. Coat-n-tie approached the pulpit with noticeable energy. Moments before he could hardly contain himself during a plodding hymn played on the piano while the plate was passed. He fidgeted, smiled, picked up his Bible, thumbed through it, and then set it back on his lap. Now behind the pulpit he began to speak. He was unpolished, extemporaneous, at times shouting, at times losing his place, but always passionate. At one point he whined,
"Friends, I'll tell you plainly,
'You must be born again! Except a man is born again he can NOT enter the kingdom of heaven!'"
"Amen!" shouted someone in the back.
"I'm talking about you!" shot back Bro. Coat-n-tie at the flock. "All here should ask themselves, 'Am I born again?'"

A smiling team of singers in color-coordinated outfits crooned as a well-organized band backed them on a popular praise song. Perfectly timed with the ending of the song came Pastor Open-collar from the side of the stage. He walked up to a plexiglass stand which was practically invisible.
"This morning we begin a series called, 'A New Start' and I am very excited about this series because I know that God is going to use it to change many lives forever. Some of you sitting here today will get 'a new start.' Who here wants a new start?"
"Whoo!" the crowd responded.
"But there's something very important I have to tell you up front," continued Pastor Open-collar. If you don't get anything else out of today's message, GET this:
You'll never get a new start without being born again. You need to be spiritually born from above to enter God's kingdom.
The worship band blasted out a popular, secular song which nevertheless had words that could be interpreted as longing for God in the midst of despair. The band members were authentic in their emotion as they sang and played. They were trendy in their style. Before the pastor took the stage a well-produced video was projected as an intro. Scenes of a smiling baby were shown. Suddenly the video quickly reversed. A time-lapsed camera showed the baby getting younger and younger until we are left with a woman who is large and in labor. Suddenly, the same baby is shown but screaming, bloody, and with the cord still attached. The scene fades as the word, "REBIRTH" appears.
Dude T-shirt gets up to speak. His style is always direct, raw.
"Some of you here have seriously, screwed-up lives (if I could put it mildly.) You have lost track of the beds you've been in, the bottles you've drank, your addictions. You have been drinking from the toilet instead of the living water that Jesus offers.
And unless you have a spiritual rebirth, you will go straight to Hell.
Are you ready to have a new life? Then cry out to your King!

And now dear reader, church attender, or visitor I ask you this simple question from our story:
Which did you notice—the music, the man, or the message?

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