KOH2RVA: Day 157

2013-02-12 19.05.10I can hardly believe what I saw in the sanctuary of Richmond’s First Baptist Church last night. It was as if all the old rules and the old ways had been temporarily suspended.

On one hand it was simply a Henrico County Public Schools Black History Month Mass Choir Concert, but on the other hand it was a demonstration of the power of possibility.

You say black people and white people can’t get along? I saw kids of almost every color standing together, singing together, swaying back and forth and smiling as if they really, really loved what they were doing and who they were doing it with.

You say church and state are separate? I saw kids from public high schools singing songs like “Jordan’s Angels,” and “Praise His Holy Name,” and “Keep Your Lamps” (Trimmed and Burning), and “True Light.” I heard them lifting up the name of Jesus as if we were having church, and not a public school choir concert.

You say you have to behave in church? I don’t know. When the concert was over the three students who were playing drums, bass, and guitar began to jam, just for the fun of it, and people began to move, just for the fun of it too. There was a happy, bubbly, post-concert mood in the air that was contagious. Young people and old people alike were catching it. I caught it, and found myself moving to the music for the second time this week at First Baptist (what’s going on here?).

What is the Kingdom of Heaven like, and with what shall I compare it? It’s like a rainbow-colored public school mass choir singing gospel songs in a church sanctuary until people just have to get up out of their pews and dance. When that happens, heaven comes to earth.


Tonight in that same sanctuary someone will make the sign of the cross on my forehead and invite me to begin a 40-day Lenten journey with Jesus. The mood will be almost completely different.  We will move from the joyful Mardi Gras of last night’s concert to the sober reflection of Ash Wednesday.

And yet this, too, is how heaven comes to earth.

3 thoughts on “KOH2RVA: Day 157

  1. Jim – Think about this event as you ponder your message on forgiveness at our national conference on May 22…… Fred Anderson

  2. We have a wondereful, centrally located building and it is so exciting to see it used by so many diverse meetings. Last week when we were there for deacons meeting the whole church was alive with Boy Scouts, Lenten small groups, hand bell choir, Young Life, and the 20 something RVA group. What a great place.

  3. I am sorry I missed it. However, back in the 90’s when Terry Goolsby was the Choir Director, we had a joint concert with 5th St. Baptist, and the result was the same. It was a wonderful event and the place was packed with the doors open to the street. It is too bad that these types of events don’t make the news so that the world, or at least Richmond, knows that we all can come together as one.

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