“You showed up!”
You showed up!
It had been sleeting and snowing most of the day, and by 4:00 PM I had received several calls from families in the church wanting to know if we were still going to go ahead with our Journey to Bethlehem. I told them we would be open for business, but not to put themselves at risk if they felt the roads were too slick.
By 5:45 PM the Christian Enrichment Center was filled. Team A was putting on their costumes and fitting their head dresses, and Team B was arriving for dinner. In my thirty years of ministry thus far, there are memories I have kept with me and last Friday night will be one of them. It will be catalogued in my mind with color and detail. You were smiling and laughing with one another; the conversations were light, and you were happy to see one another.
Outside “the weather was frightful, but my dear you were so delightful…” .
I had invited some neighbors to join us, families that live within eyesight of the church. They were cast as villagers. A week earlier when I was visiting door-to-door to warn folks that for three nights a line of traffic would be sitting in front of their homes, some my notices turned into a conversation and then our conversation turned into an invitation. “Come and join us”, I said. The children were excited, because they were going to be in a play and the parents appreciated that they have been included. They showed up too, and you welcomed them.
As the rain and snow continued to come down, one of the volunteers in the kitchen commented on how she was surprised at the number of people we fed. With a hearty laugh she then repeated what she said to David Williams, “I listen to you, my family listens to you, the church listens to you, but evidently God doesn’t listen to you.” There is some truth in the first half of that statement, but we know that your reason for showing up was more than that.
You love your church and want it to succeed. This is your spiritual home and like any good home, we show up when we are needed.
Recently, a retired pastor and his wife have been visiting our church. I have known Norman for many years, and we have had a collegial friendship. This past week when we shook hands as he left of the narthex he commented that “we’, meaning you and I, appear to have “built a warm relationship with one another.” He smiled, and was happy for me, because we are fully aware that a pastoral appointment doesn’t always turn out that way.
“Be careful of how much you ask of this congregation”, I thought to myself, “they will probably show up. Be a good steward.” They will honor their commitments.
Last Friday night, there were probably more people in the Journey to Bethlehem, than drove though the Journey to Bethlehem. I don’t believe we hosted more than fifty cars. We all went home early and no fell on the ice, and for that I am thankful.
I am also thankful you showed up. I saw how much you love your church and what kind of congregation I have.
Merry Christmas everyone, and know that I am grateful.