He blessed them, and their numbers greatly increased.
We make no apologies, numbers are important to us. Every number is a person, a life, a soul. So we keep count. That’s what God wants; in fact a whole book of the Bible is called “Numbers” and guess what it’s about…counting the people (as well as what they give in the offerings, by the way).
Obviously we kept count on Christmas Eve with special interest this year…. since we were dramatically increasing the number of seats for our service in our new venue at the Cow Palace. We had 3200 seats in the main Sanctuary area and another 200 in the Lobby (“Cry Area.”) That’s a lot of seats. Frankly, seeing all those seats after they were up last week was intimidating. Could we possibly fill them? To tell you the truth, I doubted it.
Well, the numbers are in and guess what? We did! Actually you did. The 5:45 service was almost completely full and the 4pm service was actually, believe it or not, standing room only. This year a record number of people gathered to celebrate the birth of the Lord Jesus in Timonium. (And, in keeping with the spirit of the Book of Numbers, let me add that the offering wasn’t bad either).
We have a saying around here that Christmas Eve (at the Fairgrounds) is “paradigm for everything” (else we do). This 7th year, our “jubilee” year at the Fairgrounds, brought us to a completely new level of being a church community. Our marvelous staff and ministry leaders, the hundreds of member-ministers who volunteered to serve on Christmas Eve (and the days leading up to it), the parishioners who made invitations and brought guests, the spirit, enthusiasm and joy…and of course the numbers. In the future, I believe we will be able to look back and appreciate Christmas Eve 2011 as the threshold into an amazing work God is going to do among us. Merry Christmas.