Pastor's Blog: Happy Birthday, Church!

 |  Pastor's Blog  |  Dr. Doug Dortch

I know that the older you get, the less birthdays should matter. The time comes in every person’s life when he’s not supposed to act excited about his anniversary on earth, as if to act that way conveys immaturity or inordinate pride. But personally, I’ve always subscribed to the dictum, “You know you’re too old when you’ve lost all your marvels.” Or to put it more theologically, life is a gift from God, and to take that gift for granted is the height of arrogance. After all, there are no guarantees in life; but there is grace.

Is there any better illustration of grace than the existence of the Church? Why God would have seen fit to carry on the work of Christ through such a flawed flock as the Church is beyond me, but that is exactly what God has done. As imperfect as the Church is and always has been, she is still the body and bride of Christ. No other movement, organization, or institution has been graced with such a high and holy calling.

Notice that when I speak of Church, I have intentionally used the upper case in order to distinguish my referent from its local expression. In other words, Mountain Brook Baptist Church is a part of something much larger than just the congregation that meets each Sunday at the corner of Montevallo Road and Overbook Road. We are a part of the Church universal, that body of believers that has existed through all time, going back to the day of Pentecost. That’s right; the day of Pentecost really is the birthday of the Church. It was the day when the Holy Spirit came upon the believers, as Jesus had promised, joining them together in a spiritual union and then unleashing them to proclaim the gospel in ways that everyone everywhere could understand.

This Sunday is Pentecost Sunday on the Church calendar. Many Baptists aren’t aware of that fact. To be honest, many Baptists don’t even know that there is such a thing as a Church calendar. That’s to our detriment in that it deprives us of some of the joy and encouragement that come from knowing that we really are a part of something, well, “marvelous.” We proclaim Christ in English, and in so doing, we join with fellow believers of every race and nation who proclaim the same Christ in other “tongues.”

Our worship Sunday will celebrate the gift of the Spirit, the power that Jesus gave to enable us to do what he has called us to do. Now, that’s one gift I think we should be asking for every birthday. It is truly the grace gift that keeps on giving.

“This is the word of the LORD…‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty” (Zech. 4:6).