The ususal minister, the senior pastor, of the church in Memphis where I tune in on Sundays is absent from the pulpit this morning. I have been enjoying his preaching through II Corinthians, but this morning an unfamiliar person began reading from John and here he is preaching. My first impulse was to change the channel, find another service. I wanted to hear the senior pastor. Has something similar ever happened to you? You know the preacher is away, so you have freedom to play. We can do something rather than go to church or we can attend somewhere else. As a church member, I've said that. As an associate pastor, I've heard those words. Where are we taught that our worship experience depends entirely on the sermon or the person who delivers it? What we are taught about worship is that it is what we bring to God; it is all about God. It begins with God; the music is our offering to God; our prayers are a part of our adoration and acknowledging dependence on God; the Scripture reading is God's word; the sermon should contribute to our spiritual growth and understanding of who God is.
The unfamilar person delivering the sermon is finished and his words touched my heart as he spoke on Jesus using the little boy's lunch to feed the multitude. What the boy had was not important. In fact, Jesus, present with God at creation and who could do all things, did not need the lunch to feed the people, but Jesus invited the little boy to take part in His ministry that day. The important thing is that the boy gave all to Jesus and Jesus took it, blessed it and provided for the needs of those who were there. Whether I have much or little, if I give it all, God will use it to bless others. Sounds like stewardship to me!
It's been a little lonely this weekend. Tommy, Liz and children went with friends to Tuscaloosa for the Mississippi State -Alabama ballgame. If you're at the bottom of the SEC, playing #1 in the country, you might wonder at the wisdom of making such a trip. But, football in the SEC is not all about the game, it's the total experience! Tommy, his friend Steve, and two of the children arrived late afternoon Friday to stake out a place to put up their tent for the ultimate tailgate party. Neither heavy rain, nor strong wind that blew the tent away Friday night dampened their efforts. They retrieved and secured it by ten Saturday morning and the fun began. I talked with Tommy before the game time (6:45 p.m. CST) and he said wasn't sure he was going to the game: it was cold and he had no warm clothes with him and no hat for his bald head. People in the next tent over had large, flat screen TVs and were cooking hot dogs, etc. Tommy and Steve were cooking jambalaya and smoked salmon and were thinking they might trade food for a seat in front of the TV. Elisa was decked out in her MSU cheerleading outfit, right in the midst of all those Bama fans, but Meredith saved the day by chanting on demand, "Go Aba-bama." A good time was had by all! Even though we got beat 3o something to 7. Wait til next year.
I am weary. Tom is weak, his stomach is tied in knots and his nerves are driving us both crazy. He wonders if we should try to see a doctor; I wonder what good it would do. I was brought up to believe that things could always be worse and that if you feel bad, you should suck it up and try anyway. I was also taught to be loving, giving and patient with those having a hard time. Tom, who has had few sick days in his life before now, can't wrap his head around my philosophy. I, who have always had trouble with being patient, get really frustrated with him. It would probably help if I made a schedule for the two of us and insisted that we do things, but chemo has taken its toll on my energy. We both need to get out; we need to see people.
Most of all we need to heed the "unfamiliar person's" sermon, offer God all that we are and have and see what God will do. My prayer request today is easy to remember--two "p's"--peace and patience. May you have the same.