Tuesday, September 3, 2013
Bromeliads I planted at the front door began to bloom last week. This year they open earlier than usual; that’s the big news from my house. Lot of work; worth the trouble. Soon hundreds of these flowers will surround my home. Here’s a photo I snapped yesterday:
Many things which require sweaty effort prove worthwhile in the longrun.
To me, attending church services falls in to this category. Attending meetings forms the smallest and most difficult part of my faith. I suspect I was cut out to be a Christian hermit sealed in a cave with some kind soul pushing food through a slot in the rock wall every couple of days.
I could be downright devout if I never had to associate with people.
Alas, neither the world nor the kingdom of God work that way.
Association with others tests our meddle. We try their faith and they try ours. Like steel on steel we sharpen eachother.
I underwent a test of faith and obedience Sunday at a church service.
I loath being touched by strangers. If touched unexpectedly, I cringe, panic, tremble, and sometimes I even stop breathing. Once at Ayer’s Restaurant a waitress touched my arm and I suffered such an adverse reaction. Poor girl thought I was strangling on food and began pounding me on the back, which increased my distress. . My friends and sons at the table, the sadistic bastards, know of my problem and, of course, they sat there laughing their asses off as the waitress kept patting me till tears streamed down my cheeks.
Don’t know why I’m that way, but I always have been.
So, the Lord God exercises His sense of humor by luring me into a friendly church. They grab and claw at me and pat me on the back and take unwarranted liberties with my body.
There is even this old… elderly…mature lady who stands near the church door and hugs unsuspecting strangers. She sees that as her ministry to the Lord.
I usually slip in a side door to avoid her, but Sunday I wanted a bulletin and had to enter church through the main entrance—where she got me. I offered my hand for her to shake but she pushed it aside to physically hug me. I tried to twist aside, but her welcome is relentless.
As I squirmed, there flashed into my mind the Summa Theologica:
And a thought came to me, I don’t call it the voice of the Spirit, but the thought said, John Cowart, your ministry at this moment is to stand still and let this dear lady do hers.
So I did.
I stood there defenceless, holding my bulletin in one hand and my cane in the other and being hugged until she released me to attack her next victim. And when she let go, I even said, “Thank you”.
Is this the hardest thing Christ is ever likely to call on me to do?
Sometimes I serve God best by shutting up, standing still, and letting others accomplish what He has called them to do.
Here are my jottings in that church bulletin:
Yes, the pastor prepares his sermons in advance and prints an outline and Scripture references in the bulletin. Yesterday he instructed a near standing-room-only crowd to invite even more people to attend services on September 15th as part of a National Back To Church Sunday.
Consider yourself invited.
(Use the side door if you want to escape hugging).
Jesus said, “Whosoever will may come”.
We are invited to come to Him. He stands at the door and knocks; if anyone hears His voice and opens the door, Christ promises to come in and share His feast.
The Church universal also invites, “The Spirit and the Bride say come”.
It would be nice if you attended the same church I do on 9/15/13 (Christ Church, Jacksonville, FL, 6310 Blanding Blvd., 9 a.m.).
But, since the Spirit of God has been drawing you to Himself—He has been, hasn’t He?—then seek His face at the church I attend, or at the church nearest your own home, or at the kind of church your grandmother went to. You will be welcomed whichever one you show up at.
But, if you came to Christ Church that Sunday, then the Hug Lady might hug you instead of me, so do come.