Keep going to church in 2019

By | January 10, 2019 7:48 am

Playl’s Ponderings – By Steve Playl

We got there about 10 minutes early, but we still got there too late to get an inside seat… so we sat outside, and that was OK. Music rolled through the front door of the little church house and joined the notes that were piped out to us through speakers set up nearby. Folding chairs were arranged on the front porch of The Robert F. Thomas Chapel and on the concrete “lawn” in front of the building. The three of us each took a seat on one of the metal chairs. It was the last Sunday in 2018.

The usher who directed us to our places had handed us a printed order of worship and pointed out that hymnals were available for the service. As we skimmed through the song books and browsed the bulletin, we were approached by an energetic young man with a smile on his face and his hand extended.

“Hi! I’m Joey Buck, chaplain here at Dollywood. Welcome to our worship service. You’ve got the best seats in the house.” (The last statement was made despite the fact that we were actually out of the house.) We are so glad you have joined us this afternoon.”

As he ascended the steps, he greeted the folks near the aisle and made his way to the front of the single room. There he greeted the whole congregation and invited us to worship together. Most of us didn’t know most of the rest of us, but we soon began to bond in our common commitment to Christ. We were still celebrating God becoming a human baby, being born in a stable, singing praises to the one who loved us enough to come into the world, live as a man, and die on the Cross for our sins… and Chaplain Joey didn’t hesitate to remind us of those truths.

Strangers, we greeted one another in the love of Jesus. Voices joined in a choir, more than a 100 strong, as we sang Christmas carols and praise songs. Sermon was interwoven with song, as a message was presented from Psalm 148. We were reminded to praise the Lord, because He has raised up a deliverer. Brought them close. And not just the people of Israel, but all mankind!

As we contemplated the words of scripture and the comments of the speaker, we heard him invite all the kids to come up and form a children’s choir. Without rehearsal, they united their voices to present, “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands.” I declare I think I heard Katie Grace’s voice above all the rest. She surely was not bashful in performing…and she certainly knew the song. She knows the words to lots of songs. Come to think of it, that was her Dollywood debut.

We were dismissed with prayer, then invited to sing the benediction. Rejoining the masses, gawking at the lights, our hearts overflowed as we continued to celebrate the light of the world. We were surrounded by thousands of theme park partygoers, but – near the eagles which had been rescued and moved there – we were raised on “eagle’s wings” to praise the creator.

What a great way to end an old year and kick off a new one! The writer of Hebrews reminds us in Chapter 10, verse 25 that we should “…continue to meet together…”  That means we should keep on going to church!

Usually it is good to meet with our church family, but when we have the opportunity to go to church with strangers that are fellow-believers, let’s do it. Remember that, in Christ, we are part of a big family…even at Dollywood. As you are able, keep on going to church in 2019.

comments » 2

  1. Comment by Darlene

    January 11, 2019 at 6:02 am

    We always go to this service if are there on a Sunday. Lots of folks don’t know about it. Maybe this article will get the word out!

  2. Comment by Steve Playl

    January 14, 2019 at 3:01 pm

    P.S. Disney “used to” have a chapel service, but it was discontinued several years ago, perhaps because “they” felt like there were enough churches in the area. Plenty of churches around Dollywood, too, but thank the Lord worship in the little chapel named for the doctor / minister that delivered Dolly Parton still continues. Not sure about all the theme parks, but for a “secular” entertainment venue, Dollywood still carries a strong Christian witness. I am so thankful for our part of the world. Hey, this is East Tennessee!


By submitting a comment you grant Sparta Live a perpetual license to reproduce your words and name/web site in attribution. Inappropriate and irrelevant comments will be removed at an admin’s discretion. Your email is used for verification purposes only, it will never be shared.

© Copyright 2019 | Sparta Live