It’s Wednesday of Holy Week, and tonight we gather at Richmond’s First Baptist Church for the first worship service of five that will be held over the next few days. Before I say another word, let me say thanks to Phil Mitchell, Associate Pastor for Worship, who did most of the heavy lifting in putting these services together.
Tonight’s service (at 6:30) is one of candlelight and contemplative prayer, interspersed with Scripture readings and singing by our own “cantor,” Robert Dilday. It was “designed” by the Prayer Team at First Baptist Church, a group of lay leaders who work with Lynn Turner in praying for the church and keeping the church praying.
On Maundy Thursday we will gather at 7:00 for an impressive commemoration of Jesus’ last supper with his disciples that will include communion. I’m preaching a sermon called “Washing the Devil’s Feet,” that refers not only to the foot washing before the meal, but also to the new commandment Jesus gives his disciples afterward: “Love one another as I have loved you.”
The Good Friday service will be held in the sanctuary at Noon, and will feature a reader’s theatre comprised of First Baptist staff reading the passion narrative from Luke’s Gospel, and a sermon delivered by my friend, former associate, and hip young pastor of Tabernacle Baptist Church in the Fan—Sterling Severns.
On Saturday, we will host an abbreviated Easter vigil, celebrating this ancient ritual in Fourth-Century style by kindling “new fire” in front of the church at 7:00, lighting candles from the flame, and bringing the light into the sanctuary to begin our celebration of the Resurrection. This is a service of “Fire, Word, Water, and Wine” that will include a sermon by Lynn Turner, the candlelight baptism of six new converts, and communion that will feature Welch’s grape juice instead of wine (it’s not the Fourth Century way, but it certainly is the Baptist way).
All of this slowly unfolding drama will build up to a jubilant celebration of the Resurrection on Easter Sunday morning, with two services in the sanctuary: one at 8:30 (for the early risers and those who hope to find a seat) and another at 11:00 (prepare for a packed house). Both services will feature glorious music, multiple choirs, and an Easter sermon called “Dying for Resurrection.”
If you live in the Richmond area I hope you will join us for each of these services. If you don’t, you can still access the Easter service by webcast. But please don’t let me lure you away from your own community of faith.
There is no better place to be at Easter than there.