Our family has a string of birthdays from April 15th to May 6th and my youngest grandson, Josiah, is well aware that his birthday is the tail end of that string.
The other day Josiah was minding his own business taking his sweet time to finish his lunch and randomly out of nowhere sang at the top of his voice; “Oh Happy Birthday! Oh Happy Birthday…” Apparently his own made up tune jogged a memory of a song his Mama has sung to them on many occasions and he completed his performance with a robust; “When Jesus washed. My sins away!”
I grew up in a large church that has grown to be a mega-church. Twenty-four years ago my husband and I stepped out into fulltime ministry and we’ve been in small churches ever since. I love to go “home” not only to see the people that have been foundational in my faith during my formative years, but also to witness the blessing of God on the ministry of New Life @ Renton.
Easter Sunday, New Life was packed for multiple services on two campuses. Volunteers worked diligently to make everything visitor friendly, from the parking lot to the child care drop off/pick up. The pastor thanked those who came perhaps out of obligation and explained he had compassion on their awkward state of being at that moment. He promised them that in his message he would show them that “God does awkward.” He then proceeded to share the most bare bones, basic, gospel message using the universally familiar scripture: John 3:16.
Articulately, he walked us through the story of Nicodemus and the awkward thoughts of “being born again”; not of the flesh but of the Spirit. Pastor Troy gently directed the message to a point of decision, and led everybody in a prayer of repentance. With every head bowed and every eye closed, and in the semi darkness of a mega-church sanctuary, he asked for a show of hands of those who prayed with him and just accepted the gospel message and the gift of salvation.
Well…not every head was bowed or eyes closed. I lifted my head in time to see a middle-aged couple sitting three rows in front of me simultaneously shoot their hands in the air, boldly declaring their decision.
Tears dripped off my nose and chin as I watched hands raise all over the place and my heart sang my sweet three-year-old grandson’s rendition: “Oh Happy Birthday! Oh Happy Birthday! When Jesus washed…when Jesus washed. He washed your sins away!”
I may not remember the exact date of my salvation many years ago, kneeling at a rough altar at summer camp...but I do remember it was an Oh Happy Birthday for sure. Do you remember your birthday?
Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” John:3:3