Greetings, Bel Air Church! As I write this on January 20th, it is six years since I began a conversation with BAC staff and Worship Choir leaders about the possibility of serving alongside you. Having just been challenged by some personal study on the subject of the “Missional Church,” I was drawn by Bel Air’s deep commitment to what God is doing in the city of Los Angeles. My twin desires to lead God’s people in worship and to join God in His purposes of redemption, reconciliation, renewal and restoration led me to accept the invitation to join the BAC staff. My wife, Jennie, and daughter, Maddy, and I moved from Irvine to Santa Monica to begin this new chapter together. We’re glad we did!
James 4:8 invites us to “Draw near to God,” and promises that “He will draw near to (us).” There are, in this time of my life, three practices where this mutual drawing near is most evident.
FIRST are my walks along the streets of Santa Monica. Solitary people racing by (or grid locked) in their Teslas, BMWs and Mercedes. My homeless friend, Freddy, who lives down the block. Office workers in windowed towers. Seniors passing the hours at McDonalds. Hospital patients, visitors and medical professionals. All of it calls me to prayer…looking into their eyes, surprising them with a friendly, “Good morning,” listening for what God is saying through it all, and praying for God’s redemptive touch.
SECOND, is the privilege I have of planning a worship service for every Sunday of every year. Reading the Scriptures. Asking God what He wants us to hear. Struggling to find just the right hymns, songs and readings to help us respond to God’s revelation of Himself. Marveling at the way God transforms it all into an authentic conversation with His people on Sunday.
THIRD is living in a prayerful community…the Bel Air Worship Choir. Working, learning, growing…laughing, crying, singing…serving, worshiping, and praying with this diverse yet unified family. It all draws me near to God and opens my eyes to the God who draws near to us.
Today, as I read Mark’s account of Jesus riding a young beast of burden into Jerusalem, our new President rides in “the Beast” in a triumphal entry into Washington. (No kidding! They call his armored car “the Beast!”) In both cases, some celebrate and some plan their opposition. In both cases a transition of power unfolds. One demonstrates a peaceful democratic process that has welcomed forty five presidents. The other reveals the One whose singular, sacrificial death and victorious resurrection will TRULY CHANGE the course of history. Hosanna to the King!