Ah, good afternoon brethren, welcome to services today. As many of you may be aware, this has been something of a rough week for those of us in God's church. Well, maybe more of a rough month (chuckle), but even so, here we all are again, well those of us who are here anyway, and our prayers brethren, and I'm sure you'll all agree, are that those who are no longer with us will realise that the door is always open for their, uh, return.
This afternoon I regret to announce that your pastor, who resigned last Sabbath, has been joined by both of the local elders who are, as I'm sure you know, both fine men, but Satan goes about as a roaring lion, brethren, as I'm sure you also know, and now we all need to be focused on the great future God has in store for us rather than looking behind which, as you'll remember, is what Lot's wife did. (Clears throat.)
So last night Home Office contacted me and asked if I'd come down here today and lead services, which, of course, it was my privilege to do, despite the four hour drive. I bring you warm greetings from everyone at Home Office, and in particular those who are still with us. Let's not let Satan distract us from the great Work we have in front of us, or cause us to lose our salvation by being caught up in rumor and a root of bitterness. As I'll explain in some detail in today's sermon, brethren, there is truly good news in the midst of all that has happened: Despite any appearances and rumors to the contrary, as Mr. Armstrong used to say, God is still on His throne!
[Pause to allow for scattered applause]
Now before we ask Mr., ah, one of the deacons, um, do we have any deacons left? Oh yes. Before the opening prayer, let's open our hymnals and turn to number 76... Now I believe our pianist is now meeting elsewhere, and of course we harbor no ill will toward her, but I don't think it matters as we can do a magnificent job of this unaccompanied. All together now...
Un-less the Lord shall build the house, the wea-ry build-ers toil in vain;
Un-less the Lord the cit-y shields, the guards main-tain a use-less watch.
In vain your rise ere morn-ing break, and late your night-ly vig-ils keep,
And bread of anx-ious care par-take; God gives to His be-lov-ed sleep.
A nod of acknowledgement to the Shadows of WCG blog and its post which quotes the first line of this Dwight Armstrong hymn - number 96 in the old purple hymnal, no.76 in the UCG hymnal.