A man was watching a farmer chop some wood with an axe. He noticed that it was a very fine axe. The farmer said, “Indeed, it is. This axe was the axe my grandfather used to clear this land.” The visitor remarked, “Surely this can’t be the same axe. That’s such a long time ago.” The farmer replied, “Yes, it’s the same axe. It’s had three new heads and six new handles, but it’s the same axe.”

I thought about that old story as the Bicentennial Anniversary Celebration for First Baptist Church is about to begin. After two hundred years, the church has had several different buildings, many different members, a host of fine ministers – but it is still the same church! Throughout this long history God has been faithful in the life and ministry of First Baptist. That is why our Anniversary Committee has chosen our theme for the year to be EXPERIENCING GOD’S FAITHFULNESS. The theme verse is from Psalm 100:5: “For the Lord is good; His steadfast love endures forever, and His faithfulness to all generations.”

Throughout 2017 we will have opportunities to remember God’s faithfulness in our past and to dream once again about how the faithfulness of God will lead us into the future. Of course, we can only live in the present, so day by day we are strengthened by this “steadfast love” of God which “endures forever.” This Sunday we will light three candles in worship to remind us of these dimensions of past, future, and present which will shape our worship through this year.

During this year the story of God’s faithfulness will be told in sermons, song, drama, video, and in the written word. Various guests will come throughout the year to remind us of this story. I hope that you will participate fully in worship and fellowship events as we celebrate together.

We begin this celebration in both worship services this Sunday. I will preach on the Bicentennial theme and theme verse. Glen Adkins, a former Minister of Music at First Baptist, will also lead us in both worship services. The Bicentennial Committee requested that he write a song for all of us to sing during this special season. He will introduce this new song to us in worship. His wife, Clista, will also be present for this special Sunday.  I can’t wait to sing the new song Glen has written for us. Will you join me as we sing it together?