April 2, 2019 ● 19-22
Gen. 1:5: God called the light day, and the darkness He called night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day.
Ps. 118:24: This is the day which the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.
Ps. 122:1: I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord.”
Acts 2:44: And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common.
It was a great day, a day of celebration, a day of memories, a day of renewing acquaintances, a day of fellowship around a common table. This day was also a day of challenge and a day of commitment. “Back in the day” this day would have been called, “homecoming”, a day that a church would set aside to celebrate a certain number of years as a church, a day when former church members would come back to visit, a day when former pastors would come and one may be invited to be the guest speaker. This “homecoming day” would also be a day of what was affectionately called, “dinner on the ground”, and back in the day, for some churches, it really was dinner on the ground. I grew up with homecomings and dinner on the ground.
I used to think the only kind of fried chicken was cold fried chicken. And was there any other dessert than homemade ice cream and pound cake? I can feel the pounds coming back already! But then again, I grew up in the south praise the Lord!
125 years is not just a “homecoming”, it’s a great celebration! 125 years is time to stop and just think on that for a moment: 125 years of baptisms, 125 years of Sunday School and VBS and youth and children’s camps, 125 years of gospel preaching, and of course, 125 years of fellowship meals!
Standing in the pulpit and looking over the sanctuary at everyone (the unofficial count was 301), I could not help but think, “This is what church really is all about – people.” The editor from the local paper interviewed me after the service and asked me what the secret was that had kept Bethel alive and going for 125 years. I simply told him it was God, it was the people whom God had brought to Bethel over the years. God made the day, God established the church, and God made us part of His church through Jesus Christ. It was, and is, God’s day, and we rejoiced and were glad in it. Seeing all those people, listening to the many conversations, looking at the renewed friendships, seeing how people were drawn to the pictures on the wall that chronicled Bethel’s history over the decades – how could, how can, anyone think that they can walk with the Lord alone in this world without the local church?
From the beginning, God made man to be in community with other men. When God made Adam, God declared, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him (Gen. 2:18).” God formed woman from the rib of man, and from them came the human race. Adam had the animals, but they were not suitable as companions. The first human needed others like him to converse with and to interact with. God has made us to be in community with each other. This is the church, brothers and sisters in Christ brought together to, “do life together.”
Celebrating a church that has been going and growing for 125 years is a powerful testimony to God, His grace, and the people He has transformed and sent to that church over the decades. And yes, this is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it. Let us celebrate, let us remember, let us renew acquaintances. And tomorrow, let us work, let us pray, let us gather, let us encourage one another. Let us never forget there are lost people that need to hear, see, and experience the love and grace of God. Let us serve the Lord with gladness. Let us not forsake the assembling of ourselves (Heb. 10:25). Let us never forget there are generations coming behind us that need this sense of history, that need to hear and see what God has done and continues to do.
When you get up tomorrow, remember, “This is the day the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it. Glad to serve, glad to worship, glad to gather, glad to be part of what God is continuing to do at Bethel.”
I want to encourage you to allow God’s Word to equip you to be an active part of God’s local church. Use these verses of Scripture to guide you to be a more active part of God’s local body of believers in the local church:
Acts 2:42-47 | Rom. 12:9-13, 16 | 1 Cor. 12:18 | Heb. 10:24-25