The pastor was getting down over the results of his efforts for the Kingdom of God. The building was leaking again, attendance was down, the offering collection was just not enough, and he was hearing complaints. He opened a letter he’d just received that morning from his mom. As he opened it a twenty-dollar bill fell out. He thought to himself, Thanks, Mom, I sure needed that right now.
As he finished his meal, he noticed a beggar outside on the sidewalk leaning against the light post. Thinking that the poor man could probably use the twenty dollars more than he, he crossed out the names on the envelope and wrote across the top in large letters, PERSEVERE!
So as not to make a scene, he put the envelope under his arm and dropped it as he walked past the man. The man picked it up and read the message and smiled.
The next day, as the pastor enjoyed his meal, the same man tapped him on the shoulder and handed him a big wad of bills.
Surprised, the young pastor asked him what that was for.
The man replied, “This is your half of the winnings. Persevere came in first in the fourth race at the track yesterday and paid thirty to one.”
As I slowly unfold into my new life, I find myself most frequently in a small community church that is very much the center of what is sometimes called a NORC (naturally occurring retirement community.) If this is true of the community as a whole, it is also true in most churches in the United States. Our children are not here in ever-increasing numbers.
So, our little church in our little community is asking the same question that we preachers ask ourselves, almost every Sunday: what is worship?
Martin Luther answered this question with: the tenth leper turning back. It is an answer worth considering.
A woman was at work when she received a phone call that her daughter was very sick with a fever. She left her work and stopped by the pharmacy to get some medication. She got back to her car and found that she had locked her keys in the car.
She didn’t know what to do, so she called home and told the baby sitter what had happened. The baby sitter told her that her the fever was getting worse. She said, “You might find a coat hanger and use that to open the door.”
The woman looked around and found an old rusty coat hanger that had been thrown down on the ground, possibly by someone else who at some time or other had locked their keys in their car. Then she looked at the hanger and said, “I don’t know how to use this.”
So she bowed her head and asked God to send her some help. Within five minutes an old rusty car pulled up, with a dirty, greasy, bearded man who was wearing an old biker skull rag on his head. The woman thought, “This is what you sent to help me?” But, she was desperate, so she was also very thankful.
The man got out of his car and asked her if he could help. She said, “Yes, my daughter is very sick. I stopped to get her some medication and I locked my keys in my car. I must get home to her. Please, can you use this hanger to unlock my car?”
He said, “Sure”. He walked over to the car, and in less than a minute the car was opened. She hugged the man and through her tears she said, “Thank You So Much! You are a very nice man.”
The man replied, “Lady, I am not a nice man. I just got out of prison today. I was in prison for car theft and have only been out for about an hour.”
The woman hugged the man again and with sobbing tears cried out loud, “Oh, Thank you God! You even sent me a Professional!”
Have a great and true worship – Laurin