Next Sunday, May 31, my friend Scott Menzies and I will share a message with the New Song Church family and visitors. A couple of weeks ago I issued a "save the date" to let folks know about the event in case they wanted to attend and hear what we have to share. Scott told me several folks saw that message and have asked him what we're going to talk about. I asked him what he told them. He said I told them "I don't know."
I didn't have the heart to tell Scott what awful advertising that was for our big day. OK, maybe I did have the heart. After all, the best way to draw people to a message you hope will touch their lives is to tease them with a hint of how they're going to be impacted. Give them an appetizer that leaves them dreaming of how tasty dinner will be. Any restaurant putting the "I don't know" appetizer on the menu should do so with a bankruptcy lawyer on retainer.
The truth is, though, Scott's right. Next Sunday won't be a sermon Scott and I prepare and memorize. It will be a conversation like the dozens we've had over the past year and a half since he tragically lost his wife Meg. They always start with neither of us having any idea what direction they will go. Yet countless times I've walked away from these conversations wondering if I'd just been part of the most powerful sermon I've ever heard. Two men looking for God where he is seemingly absent - or at least hiding - and always finding him.
It's hard to look back a year and a half ago and imagine that Scott and I would be sharing an altar like we will next Sunday. Nothing in this world was pointing in that direction. Scott and I knew each other through work but were hardly best friends. Our lives followed fairly parallel paths but rarely intersected. Then one day Scott's life was intersected by death, and that changed everything.
Death does that you know. It changes things. I've watched with often teary attention the past 16 months as Scott has heroically balanced grieving widower and all-in single dad. It makes an outsider develop some hostile feelings toward death. I can only imagine what it does to an insider.
God knew that would be the case. He knew it in Scott's case and mine and yours. He knew in death we would all have a common enemy.
That's why God chose to intersect death with life. He sent his son to bear witness to us that death, even with all of its darkness, was no match for His light. Jesus died, but then rose from the dead and handed us a google map with directions to eternal life. A single handed taunting finger wag at death. Death was no longer something to fear, but something to celebrate.
That's a hard concept to embrace here on earth, especially when death is your wife or mom or daughter. When it's a roadside memorial, the constant reminder of how much more beautiful life was than death. That's why, before Jesus left to prepare our eternal home, he challenged each of us to continue being the life that intersects death. To be the hope for the hopeless.
I've tried to be that for Scott and his family. The hope for the hopeless. Life that intersects death. I'm proud to say I'm just one of tens of thousands of family and friends and complete strangers who've rallied around them this way. But here's the thing. In doing so, Scott himself has become life. I can't tell you how many conversations I've had with him that leave me feeling like I've been hit over the head with a larger than life dose of life.
This guy has become an unlikely champ at intersecting death with life. And because he has, I'm happy to say many days we no longer walk parallel paths, but share the same one.
Next Sunday that path leads us to New Song Church in Mechanicsville (7450 Colts Neck Rd, Mechanicsville, VA 23111). We'll be delivering the messages at the 9:00 and 10:30 AM services. According to Scott, we have no idea what we'll be talking about. Looking at the history of our conversations, he's probably right. But I promise you, if you show up, you'll witness life intersecting death.