By Tommy Rush
Several years ago I served a small rural church while attending seminary. New Lebanon Baptist was located on the top of Simmon’s Mountain in Alabama, about 30 miles north of Birmingham. It was a small church, but the people of New Lebanon made a big impact in my life and ministry. During those early years of ministry, my wife and I had to get up early, dress the kids, grab some breakfast while going out the door and make the long drive from Birmingham to Simmon’s Mountain for church. Most Sundays to say the least were pretty stressful, especially while attending graduate school, working part-time jobs, attempting to be a good parent and serving as a pastor all at the same time.
I can still remember our Sunday Morning drives in our trusty Chevrolet Chevette. I remember trying hard to be on time, driving the 30 miles without getting a ticket and driving fast up the winding mountain road hoping our daughter Emily would not get carsick. At the top of Simmon’s Mountain after turning right onto New Lebanon Church Road, we saw the same two County Road signs side by side that I never liked to see. One sign read, “New Lebanon Church Road.” The second sign read, “Dead End.”
New Lebanon was actually a beautiful, white wood framed church surrounded on three sides by one of the oldest cemeteries in Alabama. It’s funny to think how we invited people to worship with us by telling them to take a right at the Dead End sign and drive through the cemetery until you come to the church. Over the years I’ve come to realize that God does some of His greatest work and has some of His most faithful people in places you would never expect. Some of my greatest memories and blessings in ministry came from the people who love Jesus at the end of a dead end road in a small country church, in the middle of a cemetery at the top of a mountain.
Every Easter I think about the great Easter Sunrise Services we had in the middle of that cemetery on top of Simmons Mountain. I also think about the fact that the very first worship service following the resurrection of Jesus took place in the middle of a cemetery when the disciples believed they were at a dead end. The first Easter Sermon was short and powerful. “He is not Here, He is Risen, just like He said!” The same sermon has been preached for over 2000 years in places all over the world. I have no doubt it will be preached this Sunday on top of Simmons Mountain in the middle of a cemetery and at the end of a dead end road. It will also be preached from the corner of Second Street and Touline Street in the middle of Natchitoches at First Baptist. You’re invited to join us to worship our Risen Savior. Easter Worship Services will begin at 9:30 and 11:00. We would love to have you worship with us!