Welcome to the Hill. We are so happy you could join us on this joyous occasion.
This might not be conventional, but I want to start by telling a joke. What do you get when you have two Caucasian pastors, an African American pastor, a Filipino American pastor and a Korean American pastor gathered in a room together?
Any guesses? Don’t be shy. Answer: you have a church anniversary service. Happy Anniversary, church! Let’s give the Lord Jesus a hand!
Today is going to be a special service. We are going to have several sermonettes by 3 of my favorite pastors in the world. I’m Asian and I respect my elders so they will be preaching in order of seniority. I didn’t say age now, I said seniority. I will save my introductions for a bit later.
Prior to the mini-sermons, we have a slideshow containing photos from our first year at the Hill, followed by a special song by our kids along with the volunteers in our children’s ministry.
I’m excited for today because I believe we are going to get a tiny, tiny glimpse, a small foretaste of the Marriage Supper of the Lamb through this service. We’re going to try our best in an hour and a half service followed by dinner to give praise to Jesus for what He means to us and to thank him and to honor him and to exalt his Name high above every other name.
Consider for a moment that when you and I are gathered around the Banquet Table in the new heaven and new earth, no one is going to be looking at their watches and wondering, when is this dinner gonna end? We’re going to be outside of the boundary and limitations of time and space. Think about it. To God, a day is like a thousand years and a thousand years is like a day. And if you’re the guy who’s looking at the time because the preacher is not wrapping it up fast enough for you to get home to watch the game, I hate to break it to you, but I think the Marriage Supper of the Lamb is going to last a little longer than an hour and a half. Maybe a thousand years, 10,000 years, who knows?
To me, it doesn’t matter if I’m seated at the table right next to Jesus and the apostles, or I’m just a bouncer at the door. Just the fact that I’m there, that I made it in, that I can gaze upon Jesus with my own eyes, I think this is ALL that I will care about.
I bet that first night when we’re all gathered around the Table, multitudes of people are going to take their turn and essentially do what we’re going to do today. One by one, people will stand up and testify about the goodness of the Lord. I don’t think we’re going to be drinking grape juice. I suspect that people will raise their cups and drink the wine of the new covenant. Even us Baptists.
I imagine the father of faith, Abraham, raising up his cup to give a toast to Jesus, our Bridegroom. Lord, I was about to kill my son Isaac, but you called out to me and stopped me. You provided a ram as a substitute and allowed my boy to live. Thank you Jesus for sparing my son. And raising his cup, he’d say, thank you for sparing me eternally by your sacrifice.
I imagine Moses standing up next. Lord, I know I got angry in the desert because those Israelites were stubborn grumblers and I struck the rock in anger. And as punishment, you forbid me from entering the Promised Land. I grieved then, but now that I’m here, that Promised Land is like a slum compared to this. In fact, Jesus, YOU are my inheritance. And he would raise his cup in gratitude.
Some would stand and say very little. Like the woman caught in adultery. I can picture her saying, with tears running down her face, Lord, you didn’t condemn me. You restored my dignity as a daughter of the Most High God. And she would raise her cup to honor Jesus.
Peter would stand and say, Lord, I blew it. I denied you. I failed you. Even after the resurrection, I was ready to throw in the towel. But Jesus, you pursued me. You took hold of me. You didn’t let go of me. You forgave me. You told me that you loved me and you gave me a chance to reaffirm my love for you. Thank you, Lord. He would raise his cup in worship.
Apostle Paul could recount many times of the Lord’s goodness. Maybe he would recall that night when he and Silas were stuck in a prison cell in Philippi. Lord, when 2 or 3 are gathered, you promise to be in our midst. And you were THERE with us powerfully that night. We sang and prayed our hearts out. I was ready to come home. But suddenly, there was an earthquake and the chains fell off and the prison doors flung open. And the Roman jailer was about to kill himself, but you met him right then and there. Here he is. He’s seated next to me.
The jailer would stand. And in that moment, I can imagine the place bursting into shouts of Hallelujah from everyone around the Table and the choir of angels erupting in praise. Praise the Lord! Your love endures forever! Salvation belongs to our God! Paul and the Roman jailer would raise their cups in joyous celebration. And there would be high fives and dancing all around.
I bet this would go on for a long, long time and we would be soaking it all in. Every last second. Hanging on every word. And I pray that on that day, many of us in this room would have our own testimony. That we could share testimony after testimony of God’s grace and His goodness in our lives.
I’m thankful that we get to do a little of that today. Please bow your heads in prayer.
We raise up our hands, we lift up our voices, we offer our heart-felt worship because you alone deserve it. Thank you for taking hold of us in our spirits when we repented of our sins and placed our faith in Jesus. We look forward to that day when our faith will become sight and our knowing of Christ will turn into having of Christ… when we can flop into the arms of our Savior and we get to finally take hold of you. We long for that day, Lord. We long for that dinner banquet when each one of us will be able to raise up our own cups in your presence and before the saints to honor you, Jesus, our beloved Bridegroom.
As the hymn goes–Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus, how I’ve proved him over and over, we testify that at every twist and turn in this journey we call life, you have proved yourself to be faithful, loving, compassionate, gracious, gentle. You have been our Good Shepherd. You have been our Strong Tower. You have been our Shield and our Sabbath.
In light of the certainty of our hope in Christ, we want to live for you. We want to give our all to the One who gave His all to us by dying on the cross for our sins. We want to endure suffering for your Name’s sake. May we lay it all on the line for you Jesus.
We ask now that you would receive our offering as a token of your complete ownership of our lives. Use this offering, Lord, for your glory. Our desire is for your Name and your renown to spread among the nations. May this worship service be a fragrant offering to You.
In Jesus Name, Amen