Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Special Days and Worship

Ok...I have a confession to make. I am a Southern Baptist. Now, that is no surprise to those who read this blog because you all know me. However, for the millions of blog readers out there who will never come across this page, it may come as quite a shock. Enough of that...on with the blog.

There are times when I am proud to be a Southern Baptist, like when I see Cooperative Program dollars sending and supporting missionaries all across the world. On the other hand, there truly are times when I cover the "Southern Baptist" portion of my name tag, like when we get into stupid arguments over secondary issues...a trend that has kicked up more recently and may get a blog here one day.

What I want to write about today, however, is the idea of so many special days that are recommended for the church to celebrate or observe. Now, there are several that I believe merit a church's attention, and issues on which I wish we spent more time. For example, the sanctity of life has its own day. Good for us in wanting to defend the rights of the unborn, but shame on us for having to mark off a day on the calendar to do it. Racial reconciliation has a special day. Same "good for us, shame on us" scenario. I agree that we need to spend more time praying for and giving to international and domestic missionaries, which is why I love the Lottie Moon and Annie Armstrong missions offerings. Then, there are the "normal" calendar celebrations that are typically observed...Mother's Day, Father's Day, Memorial Day, July 4 (or the Sunday closest to it), etc. None of these are necessarily bad, but you have to admit, there are a lot of "special days" out there.

This morning, though, I picked up the Baptist and Reflector, which is the Tennessee Baptist newspaper. It's mission, according to the subtitle on front, is "telling the story of Tennessee Baptists." Do I think this is a good idea? helps remind me that the kingdom for which I work is bigger than the corner of Gallatin and Alta Loma Road in Madison, TN. I get to read about what the Lord is doing in other parts of the state. Unfortunately, I also read stories which seem to be for churches who wish to blow their own trumpet for how many people did this or did that. Now, I don't want to throw out the baby with the bath water here. I think, overall, papers like this are good things. I could live without it, but I genuinely enjoy a larger perspective than the walls of my office provide.

Where am I going with this? Oh yes...I picked up the B & R this morning to read that on August 20 of this year, churches are being encouraged to use another Sunday of the year in a unique way. Do you know what it is? Is it to speak to some important, pressing issue like same-sex marriage? Is it "Defend the Inerrancy of Scripture Day"? Is it presidential prayer Sunday? No to all of the is "Baptist and Reflector Day". The Tennessee Baptist Convention's paper is actually encouraging pastors to order free copies of the paper for their entire congregation and hand them out on that Sunday. This is their attempt to boost their number of subscribers. After all, the article says, "subscriptions are only $11 per year and discounts are offered for various church plans."

Are they kidding? I have a big enough struggle recognizing mothers and fathers in such a way that doesn't profane our time of worship. We don't come together to recognize moms and dads; we come together to worship the one, true and living God. I almost did nothing on these two days, but instead, we just had moms and dads stand so that families could lay hands on them and thank God for them. We'll have to see if we even do that next year. The only time we even make announcements is after our corporate worship is complete and we're about to walk out the door. Does the TBC really expect pastors to take corporate worship time to push the state paper? This is one church pastor that won't be recognizing "Baptist and Reflector Day." I still enjoy reading it, but it won't be making it into the order of worship on August 20...or any Sunday, for that matter.