Exalting Christ, Evangelizing People, Equipping the Saints, Extending the Kingdom
First Baptist Church
Monday, June 24, 2019



Pastor's Article from mAY 2019 Newsletter:

Dear Church Family,

     I had a crush on my fifth grade teacher, Miss Grace. She was the one who read us “The Hobbit,” by JRR Tolkien.  It is a story of men, elves, dwarves, hobbits, orcs, goblins, trolls and wizards ruling or reclaiming Middle Earth. In fifth grade? Oh yeah, I was hooked.
     Tolkien’s “Middle Earth” came to the big screen with the
Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movies. The tremendous battle scenes, the armies’ strange characters (the Rohirrim, the Men of Gondor, the orcs of Mordor, the Nine Ringwraiths), and the hint of magical stories being told from a time long, long ago, this is greatness for a fifth grader!  It was the Avenger comic books, but with old world style!
     One of several heroic characters is Strider. Mysterious and scary, his battle skills, field craft and sword work saves the lives of the hobbits (little guys, not built for war) many times.  A diligent reader, like say a seventh or eighth grader, sees the clues that there is more to Strider than meets the eye. Late one night, by a campfire, an elf reveals the truth; Strider is actually Aragorn, heir to the throne of Gondor, king of men in Middle Earth.  For a long time he has wandered Middle Earth, waiting for his time to take the throne.
      Tolkien, the author, a veteran of WW1, brought his multi-volume epic to a climax with two great battles. The first is the Battle of Pelennor fought before the gates of the White City. Aragorn’s arrival at the battle field is written this way: 
Thus came Aragorn son of Arathorn, Elessar, Isildur's heir, out of the Paths of the Dead, borne upon a wind from the Sea to the kingdom of Gondor; and the mirth of the Rohirrim was a torrent of laughter and a flashing of swords, and the joy and wonder of the City was a music of trumpets and a ringing of bells. But the hosts of Mordor were seized with bewilderment, and a great wizardry it seemed to them ...and a black dread fell on them, knowing that the tides of fate had turned against them and their doom was at hand.               (from The Return of the King)
      Tolkien’s Christianity is apparent. Aragorn is a type of Jesus, who wandered obscurely on the earth until finally He is revealed to be the Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, Ruler of the World. The battle scene pictures Armageddon, where all the forces of Satan will gather against the Son of Man. But He will arrive, a sword flashing, destroying His enemies and claiming His throne in Jerusalem. His appearance: “Here is Jesus, Son of the Most High, Immanuel, David’s Heir, Lord of Life, Victorious over the Grave, King of Kings and Lord of Lords!”
       Tolkien, a professor of English literature at Oxford, once wrote in an essay about stories he called “eucatastrophe,” or “joyful catastrophe.” Similar to his epic creation of hobbits, trolls, orcs and goblins, Tolkien wrote that eucatastrophes are tragedies that turn out triumphant. Sacrifice turns into joy. When defeat seems certain, suddenly victory rises up.  Tolkien wrote about a “bass string” in the human heart that vibrates only to this kind of story. He wasn’t talking about his own great stories. He believed, he wrote, that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the Story of Stories. It is the only story capable of plucking that bass string until the heart is filled with joy.
       We were created by God to have the capacity to respond to the Story of Stories. To feel the joy of death defeated, Satan sentenced and sin silenced.  This Story of Stories produces Joy, Life, Victory and Salvation.  Christian, let’s rejoice in Jesus’ victory, our redemption, His soon-coming return and abundant life! Let’s be sure that we are moving through life filled with…INEXPRESSIBLE JOY!

I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy, down in my heart!
Bro Jonathan