“Many people today don’t want honest answers insofar as honest means unpleasant or disturbing. They want a soft answer that turneth away anxiety.” – Louis Kroenberger
I was in Houston one Sunday back when I worked there. I tried to go to the church I attended before moving to Grapeland. It was Communion Sunday and I experienced a very different and moving type of service. Like most people, I was initially reluctant to go to this service, but was glad I went.
Most all churches have some form of a communion service, and in many cases, I’m sad to say, it becomes routine; we go through the ritual routinely. I know I have. Even so, we frequently come away feeling a renewed energy to try to do better, be more forgiving, etc. But how long does it last? One hour? One day? I suspect most of us get up on Monday morning and the day begins as usual – the prayers and promises of yesterday already being forgotten. But the Communion service I attended was memorable. First off, it was all sung in part by the choir director and in part by the people, with a small part of the liturgy being read by the pastor. The choir director was a young man my son’s age, who years earlier had sung in my son’s, Jeff, wedding. His voice has continued to improve over the years. I must admit to being somewhat mesmerized by his singing. The service continued to be different, and I won’t go into a lot of detail, but there was one thing else unique – while people were going to and from the alter rail, the rest were singing hymns instead of just listening to organ music. Everyone was involved throughout the service.
At the end there was an invitation to join the church if one was so moved. Again, most all churches have some form of an alter call – either to pray or to join the church. It is simply an invitation – you don’t have to accept. In saying this, I’m reminded of a story; a story that could be as moving as the communion service I attended, but in a slightly different way………..
The small child listened quietly as the preacher began to give his last alter call. He watched as no one moved; no one seemed to need a prayer at all. No one needed forgiveness in their lives of sin. Everyone seemed pleased the way his or her life had been.
The child realized that even though he didn’t quite understand, he believed in Jesus and down the aisle he ran! He fell to his knees and began to pray as the preacher knelt by his side. The preacher heard the small child say:
“Jesus, I know you know who I am, but in case you’ve forgotten, my name is Sam. I’m the one who won’t play with my friends, just because they won’t lend their good toys to me. I’m the one, Jesus, who always wants my own way and I won’t listen to what others may say. And I’m the one that never does his part even though deep down in my heart, I know what I’m supposed to do. And I guess, Jesus, I’m the one that never does anything unless it’s half done. And I know you saw what I did the other day, I got awful mad and pushed a little boy out of my way.
But Jesus, I just want you to know, I’m sorry for all the bad things I do. And I want to try to do better so maybe you can love me and forgive me too. I want to grow up to be like these people here today, for they must never do anything wrong or I guess you’d be hearing them all say, ‘Forgive me, too, Jesus, and help me to be more like you instead of more like me!’”
The preacher stood up with tears in his eyes, as the congregation had heard, and they too had begun to cry. For this small humble child had taught them this day, the true meaning of faith and just how they should pray. They knew in their hearts just how complacent they had become when this small child ran down the aisle.
Isn’t it easy to come away on Sunday feeling good and we wait until the next Sunday to get that old feeling once again? Self-satisfaction isn’t necessarily a good thing. Think about it.