The atmosphere was rich in smiles, laughs, and embraces, as well as sincere prayer, worship, and reorientation of ourselves before the Lord as gentlemen in service to Christ.
We were treated to a delicious breakfast by Jan Ferguson and her food services team, and to just give you an idea of how much food was consumed, three gallons of biscuit gravy ought to give you an idea.
Organizer Russell Day kicked the morning off with his warm welcome and invocation. After several moments of conversation over breakfast, associate pastor Rev. Chris Carter collected prayer requests and prayed over them in his powerful yet humble intercessory prayer.
From there we journeyed to the sanctuary, where Rev. Mark Matheny of St. Luke United Methodist Church introduced the speaker, pastor emeritus of Christ Church Maxie Dunnam. Rev. Matheny’s lively introduction featured his own rendition of “What a Friend We Have in Maxie.”
Maxie opened with a reading from the letter to the Hebrews, highlighting its focus on the priesthood of all believers. From that launching pad he summarized the theology of his newest book The Intercessory Life, as we are the ones who “re-present” Jesus to the world and Jesus “re-presents” us to the Father. As Christian believers, we speak to God for the people, and we speak to the people for God.
As Maxie is prone to do, he quickly brought his message about the intercessory life to bear on daily life, particularly in the context of the city of Memphis. We live in “a tough city,” Maxie said. It is the fourth poorest large city in the nation and was recently named by one source as one of the least favorite American cities. “I believe Memphis suffers from a corporate lack of self-esteem,” Maxie admitted. But he spent the rest of his speech reassuring the assembly of men that we should take pride and joy in what God is doing through the church in this city.
Maxie focused his comments on the recent work of Cornerstone Preparatory Academy, reinforcing the value of investing in inner-city education, and mentioning that this could possibly be the single greatest opportunity Christ Church has at living the intercessory life as disciples of Jesus. But there are so many others–the poor, for instance. Or immigrants. Or anyone that needs to know they are cared for. Maxie centered us on this question, “Who are the people in Memphis who have failed to receive the message from you and your church that you care for them?”
It was a fitting note to end on when Maxie led us in a chorus of “This Little Light of Mine.” “Dare we even think that Satan blow our light out?” Maxie asked. “The powers of sin and death have already been destroyed. And these last years of my life I want to live an intercessory life — that’s the only way to be a champion of Christ.”