We’re finally there, well at least as far as this life, we have arrived! We began remodeling the old Tony’s Steakhouse building on November 4th and moved the broadcast equipment on February 10th. It feels good to be home. It really didn’t seem to take that long. We had such good times with those people who volunteered their labor to make it possible. I suppose I’ll miss that the most. It was just good old-fashioned fun working with one another. Volunteers donated a lot of time and we will always be grateful for such a show of generosity on their part. Thinking back over the past three months and how fast it seemed, I was reminded of that simple ingredient in our lives: time.
I’m a ’24’ fan. I had never seen the program until last year. It had been on television for five years before I decided to try it. Mike Middleton had talked to me about it during one of our past Celebrations, but I just couldn’t get into a serial program. It’s a story that seems to never end. It’s much like the radio programs from the 1940’s: leaves you with a cliffhanger every week. Because there are two or three storylines all taking place at the same time, the intensity is just unrelenting. Jack Bauer is the lead character. This guy is superman without the “S” on his chest. He can do it all. He’s even figured out how the use a cell phone, something I’m still trying to master. Anyway, Jack goes from crisis to crisis each program and amazingly, those crises all happen in one hour’s time. That’s the hook for the year. Each episode represents one hour in one day. Each day represents one full television season. So what you have is all kinds of things taking place in each hour of the program, and each year we look into only one day in the life of Jack Bauer. He is a busy man.
I remember when I was a young boy my father used to watch professional wrestling. He would sit on the couch, what we call a divan back then, and he would twist on the edge of that divan, wrench his shoulders, make faces, muscles tense, jump up with disappointment if the good guy was getting cheated or whipped. I kept telling him, “Dad, it’s fake. They are really not beating each other senseless, they are throwing punches that have bee written and telegraphed days before the fight.” No matter, he still wore the couch thin and enjoyed every minute of the fight.
Well, there I was wrenching around on the edge of my recliner, biting my nails, silly stuff. I knew perfectly well it was all scripted and Jack was going to survive because they need him for next week’s episode so that I would come back for more. What is interesting for me about that program is the concept of time and how I spent all season long watching what, in effect, is one day in the life of Jack Bauer.
I’ve had a tendency to describe the Christian life as though it was a book. Each day is a new page to be read. Each day is unique and has it’s own script. No day is the same as the day before. Yesterday’s page has been turned and what will happen tomorrow can’t be discovered until midnight tonight. In the everlasting Christian life, our day does not end when we sleep but continues until the time we step over into the other side of this experience. And while each day is revealed one page at a time, the whole makes up thousands of pages of the book. Looking at any one page can give you a simple photograph of that day. One page will not tell you much about the whole of the book. Our 24-hour days are earthy, not heavenly. They are good for counting time and the seasons but not good for defining our lives. They blur our lives. They don’t give an accurate picture. Only reading the whole book can do that.
We could look at the page where Christ was crucified and be pretty discouraged about the leader of our Faith. But if you read the whole book the end, it is a much better story than that one page. Our lives are like that. Some days, taken individually, can be greatly disappointing. But that novel is not finished in just that one page. We should keep a hope that on the next page things will change. Scripture says that a thousand years is as one day with God. The Father’s time is lengthy and doesn’t have the limitation of a clock. Being eternal, we don’t really live in time. This experience is a millisecond; it’s one page of a novel of 29,000 pages. We can, through patience and practice, take no thought for the next page, and we can forget the past page and go on.
I’ve described the relocation of the studios as “a daunting task.” Taking a March 2006 page out of the book would have caused us to be discouraged, or at least concerned, about how we could accomplish such a huge task. There were many things required of us that we simply did not have: the ability, experience, skills or equipment. Now we have read 313 pages later and find out that God has provided all those things to us in order to finish that impossible task. In those 313 days since last March, the expertise, time, tools, and materials came to us – rescued us. Over the past 10 months, we have seen so much happen that we could not have imagined in our own minds. Some of it was like pulling teeth, but most of it was so much a pleasure. Even in Faith we were still surprised at what God had in store for us. Until this page was revealed, we could not have defined what was happening in the life of this ministry
There have been moments and times in the history of WBVN where we can see turning points and specific interventions by God in the life of this ministry. People and things that have come along just at the right time to meet serious needs of this ministry. We have not seen that on every page but on many pages. Some pages are daunting, but we just wait on the next page to reveal our life’s full story. And while it’s easy to say, “Trust in God,” and difficult to live it, we have so many testimonies of God meeting the needs of this radio ministry one page at a time. Sometimes we have not known what to pray for but just stayed in trust. Sometimes I feel guilty for describing the Christian life this way, but this is the way it happens to us. So we encourage people daily to believe God is in their lives. Pray for what we know to pray for and rely on the Love and Wisdom of God to fill in the gap what we do not know. You may not know where, you may not know when, but He is in the middle of all that we do. Sometimes trusting in Him is all we can do and all we need to do.
As I write this letter, we are just days away from being able to broadcast from the new studio location. It will begin a new era for this ministry and begin what we think will be an increased ability to serve the Southern Illinois community.
Being located across the street from the Marion Civic Center opens up several new opportunities. One such opportunity is our recent announcement about WBVN bringing in The Rock and the Rabbi. This is an Off-Broadway production that has been front-and-center on our priority list for the past year. For us, the station’s new location and being able to contract this event have simultaneously been one project. One (the new studio location) has created the possibility of the other. It has been on our hearts for a year now to do something very special for our listeners.
We have been serving this listening community for over 17 years and wanted to do something that was exceptional as a celebration of your faithfulness to WBVN. We wanted to bring in something so special it could impact Southern Illinois believers and perhaps their ‘unbelieving’ friends. Of all the options we had to choose from, The Rock and the Rabbi is our effort to bring you the very best contemporary production that we could get our hands on. In our opinion, it is the most exciting and valuable event we could have scheduled. It is a production that has toured New York, Tulsa, and Orlando; now Marion is added to that list of cities. This specific presentation of the Gospel is a perfect fit for our ministry purpose and our characteristic of Contemporary Gospel. (We have material for a three week Bible study available for download on our web site. Just go to 220.127.116.11/special.htm and scroll down to where you see two fish and a green block with “The Rock and the Rabbi Bible Study” in it. This is a wonderful tool and terrific teaching that we feel all who choose to use it will love.) Now, let me tell you a little about The Rock and the Rabbi.
Creators Gary Richardson and Danny Hamilton each have a quick answer when asked about the beginnings of The Rock and the Rabbi. Richardson, who wrote the show’s script, likes to say he got the idea for the show from a book someone left in his hotel room. When asked about how long it took to come up with the programs, composer and music director Hamilton simply says, “All my life.”
Here’s the longer version of Richardson’s story:
It was in the mid-1970’s and I was visiting with a friend of mine, who was a pastor. He started telling me about something that just struck him, how there are two miraculous catches of fish in the Gospels- one comes at the start of Jesus ministry, and the other after His resurrection. And Peter plays a big role in both these events.
It was not until 1997 that Richardson got around to turning the fishing catches idea into something more concrete. He and Hamilton decided to collaborate on making a musical out of the story of Jesus and Peter. The Rock and the Rabbi premiered in 1998.
What Hamilton and Richardson ultimately produced is a unique theatrical show done in a style they like to describe as “Garrison Keillor meets MTV Unplugged”- storytelling that is plain, direct and seasoned with quiet humor set to music that is acoustic yet energetic. The combination of a former television host (Richardson) and a central Florida minister of music (Hamilton) ventures beyond church walls and takes it’s story to the secular and church worlds alike.
Told from Peter’s perspective, The Rock and the Rabbi gives a contemporary treatment to the classic biblical story. The show traveled from Florida to New York, finding a permanent home in Orlando Florida. It caught the attention of Larry Payton, whose Oklahoma-based theatrical production company has done shows such as Les Miserables and Phantom of the Opera in a variety of Southeastern venues. In his wife Kay’s words, “[The Rock and the Rabbi] makes you both laugh and cry, while challenging you with both high energy as well as soft meaningful songs.” Talented performers blend storytelling and acoustic music together into an intimate, emotional, funny and thrilling tale of friendship, betrayal, forgiveness and reconciliation.
You will not want to miss this event! It’s one of the most profound representations of the Gospel that we have been aware of in the 17 years of broadcasting over WBVN. So now we have these two wonderful things happening at the same time. We are so grateful for all the financial help and prayers of our listeners. A big thank you goes to so many volunteers who gave their time and many their material goods to see that WBVN is now broadcasting from a wonderful facility. As I mentioned earlier, The Rock and the Rabbi event is our effort to bring something into our community of believers that represents the heart of this ministry and the quality of a national event. It’s something that is usually reserved for the larger cities and venues but is coming to the Marion Civic Center. Come, bring a friend, encourage unbelievers to attend. It will be a special three-day event, one that WBVN can say with all the confidence and hope, is well worth the time and money to attend. Thursday, March 29th will be especially tailored for church groups. For that event you will be able to purchase 10 tickets and get 5 free tickets. So, bring your group and some friends to what we think will change people’s lives. The Rock and the Rabbi is an event we know that those who attend will never, ever be the same.
Note: As of Monday, February 12, 2007, we are in the new building!