Plymouth Congregational is a traditional church. From its historical setting to the pipe organ, the majority of the parishioners to its covenant choir and their hymns. You walk in the door and you just are absorbed into the arena of Old Testament vs. the Pastor.
I’ve tried for months to figure out the true age of Pastor Bill. He’s traditional, yet he preaches like one who stepped out of seminary school of today’s youth. Energetic, eccentric, exciting, rich with words and stories that make you yell hallelujah. He preaches as one who knew (when just a small boy) he was going to grow up to do just this – spread the word of the Lord. And his infatuation with his wife remains the love of a schoolboy, despite serving many years together. It is Pastor Bill’s very fiber to be young, passionate, unrestrained regardless of his true age. And all of this became even more abundantly clear on February 26, 2012.
February 26, 2012 was one of Bill’s most “rockin’” sermons to date. He (literally) threw his entire body onto the alter and screamed at the top of his lungs, “Lord! Hear my prayer!” And the traditional flinched, the borderline asked, “Do you really do this? (And he responded, “Yes.”), while the young sat there bobbing on their tongues shouting silently in their heads, “That’s what we’re talkin’ about!”
Praying… Pray First; Pray Most (Acts 12:1-19)
Now about that time Herod the king stretched out his hand to harass some from the church. Then he killed James the brother of John with the sword. And because he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to seize Peter also. Now it was during the Days of Unleavened Bread. So when he had arrested him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four squads of soldiers to keep him, intending to bring him before the people after Passover.
Pastor Bill described the overzealousness of Herod with his placing so many guards on Peter to the Navy Seal watching himself in a prison cell.
I wonder, did Herod know something that frightened him so much that he felt such an exaggeration would be necessary when taking Peter prisoner? Had he had his own “dream”? Or prophet?
Peter was therefore kept in prison, but constant prayer was offered to God for him by the church. And when Herod was about to bring him out, that night Peter was sleeping, bound with two chains between two soldiers; and the guards before the door were keeping the prison. Now behold, an angel of the Lord stood by him, and a light shone in the prison; and he struck Peter on the side and raised him up, saying, “Arise quickly!” And his chains fell off his hands. Then the angel said to him, “Gird yourself and tie on your sandals”; and so he did. And he said to him, “Put on your garment and follow me.” So he went out and followed him, and did not know that what was done by the angel was real, but thought he was seeing a vision. When they were past the first and the second guard posts, they came to the iron gate that leads to the city, which opened to them of its own accord; and they went out and went down one street, and immediately the angel departed from him.
And when Peter had come to himself, he said, “Now I know for certain that the Lord has sent His angel, and has delivered me from the hand of Herod and from all the expectation of the Jewish people.”
So, when he had considered this, he came to the house of Mary, the mother of John whose surname was Mark, where many were gathered together praying. And as Peter knocked at the door of the gate, a girl named Rhoda came to answer. When she recognized Peter’s voice, because of her gladness she did not open the gate, but ran in and announced that Peter stood before the gate. But they said to her, “You are beside yourself!” Yet she kept insisting that it was so. So they said, “It is his angel.”
Now Peter continued knocking; and when they opened the door and saw him, they were astonished. But motioning to them with his hand to keep silent, he declared to them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison. And he said, “Go, tell these things to James and to the brethren.” And he departed and went to another place.
Then, as soon as it was day, there was no small stir among the soldiers about what had become of Peter. But when Herod had searched for him and not found him, he examined the guards and commanded that they should be put to death.
Do you think that when the guards heard they were to be sentenced to death they turned to the Lord in prayer, pleading to be spared the fate that befell James?
And what do you think God would have said to these guards?
Were their prayers that of sincerity, integrity, and honesty or of a man that was not ready to find out what lay beyond the Earthen soil under his hallowed feet?