There are more words. You can add your own. It's a long list and a mixed bag. Perhaps you still left with a lot of questions (me too, for the record). But many of us also left with a firm resolve: Jesus did not prevent the darkness, but He did defeat it. His resurrection overcame death so that death would not have the final say and so that a madman would not have the last word.
When people ask me why I can follow God when such tragedy exists in the world today, I remind them that the alternative is to follow someone who is still dead, or will be dead one day. I follow the only One who made a way for death to not have the last word. His name is Jesus. If you can find someone who can do better than that, I'm open.
But you won't. Because He's the Only One.
What an incredible team!Let me turn our conversation something a little more practical. Do you have any idea what the creative folks of PCC did to make today's service happen? In 36 hours, 2 campuses - two completely different bands - ditched their previously memorized and thoroughly rehearsed music, started all over - from scratch - charted, sang, practiced, rehearsed and memorized an entirely new set of music. New creative elements were written. New lighting maps were created. Mandy James crafted a dance. New scripture slides had to be built into the system by the graphics folks. The candles had to be bought and people recruited to light them. Transitions considered, offering, prayers...is there time for people to mourn? breath? Is the service too heavy? Not somber enough? Are we singing too much? Not enough? What are people wrestling with? What are their questions? What do we need to address? Is there a song or a poem that gets to what we're feeling? You might not know how long it takes to find just the right element, but it's not as quick as you think.
All of these things and more were the task of a highly dedicated group of people - both technical and creative. This weekend, these people put their families aside...for you. I never heard one person complain. They mopped floors. Moved chairs. Decorated. Turned knobs. Replaced batteries. Cooked. Cleaned. Played. Rehearsed. Sang. Spoke. Gave. Cared. Served.
There is an army of them. But I'd like to name two. Beth Stoddard and Sammy Frame.
Christmas is a full time for Beth. As the head of all-things-creative for PCC, December is probably the most exhausting month for her, so timing wasn't so good for a full-scale abort on a weekend service. But she went all-in, and her skill and talent proved, as always, invaluable. She asked me yesterday as we sat at a working-breakfast table, "What do you want me to do?" "I want you to do what you do best," I replied. "I want you to be Beth Stoddard." She knew what I meant. Nobody - and I mean nobody can do what Beth can do like Beth can do it. She's just that good. God gave her a great gift, and I sure am glad she uses it at PCC.
The other person is Sammy Frame. Sammy and I co-wrote the message for today and we did something we've never done before: we each taught it live at our two PCC locations. I was at Powhatan and Sammy was at Westchester. I decided to do this because I felt like each campus should have a live teaching pastor for a service like this who could also be there when it was over to offer care. It was an unusual circumstance.
Anyway, Sammy wrote some of the best parts of today's message, and he is one of the finest communicators anywhere. He is considered by many (including me) as the resident expert on the Bible at PCC, and it was an honor to work with him in this way this weekend. Sammy gave up a great deal of time with his young family to make today happen.
It was a great day at PCC. If you weren't there, it was a day worth watching online, which you can do here. And Angie Frame wrote a really great post about today, which you can catch here.
I hope you'll join us for church next week. And invite someone to come. See you then.