Sunday, January 11, 2009

Bronx Adventure, Day 2

4-6 " of snow in the NYC area didn't bode well for church, but at Bronx Bethany it only delayed things for awhile. Pastor Sam picked me up at the hotel around 7:45, and the first of two services started around 8:15 or so.

Worship is one is one of the high marks of BBCN as I discovered today. The service started with a traditional worship sequence of three hymns followed by a unison Christian confession. In the most dynamic and powerful worship of the day, a worship team led the congregation in a trio of energetic choruses. Next, the ensemble "Chosen" presented a unique arrangement of "How Great is our God", starting off as a solo, adding the ensemble voices, and culminating with the congregation joining in with a multitude of harmonious voice.

Pastor Sam preached about the church of Antioch from Acts 11 and 13, referencing their:
  • Revolutionary Stance

  • Resourceful staffing

  • Real Spirituality

  • Responsiveness to the Spirit

He equated the city of Antioch and it's importance in that time to the importance of NY today, and drew comparisons and challenges for BBCN to be like the church at Antioch through its witness, worship, and willingness.

When Pastor Sam called me up to give a word to the congregation, all I could think about was the beautiful voices I had heard all morning, each singing a distinct part, but blending together in beautiful harmony. To me, that was a tangible expression of the total ministries of BBCN: distinct individuality coming together in a power harmony that is bursting forth from the church.

Pastor Sam, the staff, and the whole congregation extended every courtesy and hospitality to me during the services today. Peaches, the church hostess, provided a mid-morning meal between the services for the pastoral staff and me that was sustaining and wonderful representative of Jamaican hospitality. Many members of the leadership team spoke highly of the time we shared yesterday in the leadership advance, and many of the congregation spoke to me and blessed me at the conclusion of each service.

Following the second service, I was amazed to note that it was into the early afternoon, and Pastor Sam and some of the staff had a surprise for me. We left and drove down the west side of Manhattan to the Chelsea district to Negril, home of the most authentic Caribbean cuisine in NYC. Following a shared wonderful sampler of seven items, I decided to be different (at least for me) and go with the Chef's Tasting Meal of curried goat, oxtail stew, and jerk chicken accompanied by rice and beans. It was wonderful food, but that was topped by the fellowship we all shared around the table as they told me stories of their past, including stories from Jamaica.

As we left, they had one more surprise for me: a trip back up the East side of the island, past the Brooklyn Bridge. I had made a reference to the bridge in my presentation yesterday, and they had picked up that it was my favorite bridge and the only place I had even considered visiting on this trip. With the snow, I thought that I would not be able to get down there, and the afternoon and early evening trip was a wonderful surprise.

The Brooklyn Bridge will be a vivid and symbolic reminder of my first Bronx Adventure. The purpose of the bridge is to connect two places that are separated. The Brooklyn Bridge does it with a graceful beauty that surrounds the foundation of strength that is the steel and stone of the bridge itself.

Bronx Bethany Church of the Nazarene is solidly rooted on the eternal truths of Scripture, yet presents a wonderful ministry of love and connection to its community.

I don't know what part of the continuing BBCN story God has for me, but I pray that I will be able to contribute in some way to their incredible journey.

1 comment:

Chris Thompson said...

I'm glad your trip went well. Been praying for you and the Brox church.