Yesterday was an amazing day at Richmond’s First Baptist Church. At the 8:30 service six new members came down the aisle, and at the 11:00 service I had the joy of baptizing Dennis Danaeue, a formerly homeless man who has found a home at First Baptist, and who is as sincere in his desire to follow Jesus as anyone I have ever met. Between services I went to the dining hall for a children’s Sunday school event and laughed out loud at “Fannie Firstchurch” (Minister of Music Phil Mitchell wearing a towering blonde wig) exhorting children to “memorize the entire Bible, all 166 books!”* After the 11:00 service I walked across Park Avenue to the Pusey House for the International Friendship Luncheon, where I spent some time chatting with Nathan from Zambia, Kanae from Japan, and a tiny girl from Bangladesh whose name is Dighi but who likes to be called “Doctor Pinky.” I was thrilled to see people from all over the world finding a place at First Baptist Church, and walked home in a state of exhilaration.
After my (mandatory) Sunday afternoon nap I drove downtown to savor the last few hours of the Richmond Folk Festival. The weather couldn’t have been any more beautiful, and when I walked across the pedestrian bridge to Brown’s Island, and looked down on those huge, white festival tents, the crowds of people milling around, the sound of music filling the air, and the smell of ethnic food wafting on the afternoon breeze, well…it made me glad to live in Richmond. I strolled from tent to tent admiring the funny hats people were wearing, watching children turn cartwheels on the lawn, and striking up conversations with church members (like Brenda and Charlie Finley) and complete strangers (like the woman from Jamaica who insisted I visit her Seventh Day Adventist church).
One of the visitors to this blog site has asked if I will share my views on Heaven. I probably will at some point, but on Sunday I think I was as close to Heaven as we can come on earth. And if I get to Heaven someday and find that there is no ethnic food, or honest laughter, or children turning cartwheels on the lawn, it won’t be Heaven at all, will it?
*Extra credit to anyone who knows there are only 66 books in the Bible.