Jesus goes to First Church

When Jesus sat between the Grumleys, in the fifteenth row of First Church on Sunday morning, for some reason, in all of his infinite wisdom, he did not realize the stir that would arise. This began an unfortunate snowball, or wave effect throughout the congregation. At least twelve families were displaced, each by one seat. As people begrudgingly moved, they tried to communicate a welcome to the stranger (so he would be sure to return) laced with enough censure to make sure he would be put in his place (or at least not in theirs) the next time he visited. This uncharacteristic reshuffling moved almost everyone in the congregation for the first time in years, skewing everyone’s view. The disruption extended the announcements sufficiently to annoy the choir who were waiting, fully robed, at the entrance to the sanctuary, hymnbooks in hand.

“I suppose of all people, I should have known better,” mused Jesus, all the while seeing the humor in Mr. Grumley’s polite, yet uncomfortable response after Jesus whispered his name to Grumley during the Passing of the Peace.

Grumley moved from side to side, a tad in excitement with the growing implications at this revelation. Not only did his surroundings take on a new look, he wanted to draw attention to the guest and let all the disrupted members know the inconveniences of having guests in church were worth it. Alas, Introduction of Visitors was already over and the Congregational Concerns and Needs were being announced. Besides, the choir was beginning to manifest their annoyance while standing just outside the doors. They were unaccustomed to being “out of the loop,” as it were, and word had already gotten to them, via the deacons, that a stranger had entered the building and sat in Wally Grumley’s seat. They, who were usually first on everything, would be the last to witness this unprecedented incident, even if it had ruined their traditional procession.

“Tell them I am here,” said Jesus to Grumley, “Go on, stand up and say I am here.”

“You mean interrupt Congregational Concerns and Needs?” whispered Grumley with a faint shush in his voice in an attempt to keep Jesus quiet.

I am terribly sorry, but I am afraid we just do not do that here,” he said in his solemn prayer voice.

“What if I am telling you to do so?” persisted Jesus. “After all, the pastor just said, that if two or three are gather in my name then I am in the midst of them? So, go on tell them I am here.”

Wally Grumley peered across to his wife for assistance, “You do it Joy, you always said you would obey Jesus if he said something directly to you.”

“I think he is talking to you Wally,” said Joy, her eyes fixed on the pulpit proceedings, totally unimpressed with her husband’s freedom with this stranger.

“Well actually, I am talking to you both.”

“You are interrupting my worship experience,” said Joy with an air of finality.

“I have come here to meet with God if you don’t mind.”

“I am God. I am here to be met.”

“Well, God just wouldn’t do it like this,” said Grumley’s wife through clenched teeth, “God just wouldn’t arrive here at church and….” She was lost for words.

“Do you believe I am here?” quizzed Jesus.

“Well of course I believe you are here,” replied Wally.

“Then go ahead and tell them I am here.”

Joy tilted her head a hairbreadth toward her husband and said, “Will you stop talking during the service, even if it is to Jesus! I am going to a quieter spot where I can enter the spirit of worship without interruption.”

“I will be challenging you to treat any stranger as you would treat Jesus,” said the pastor, “in my message today entitled Church Hospitality.”

Wally and Jesus looked at each other, and, after a moment, they burst into uproarious laughter, embraced like long lost friends and moved into the aisle in a celebratory dance. Wally, catching the pastor’s voice a little above the commotion caused by his newfound joy heard, “and now the choir will lead us in our opening hymn: ‘Stand Up Stand Up for Jesus’” as the deacons ushered the exuberant pair out the door.

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One Response to Jesus goes to First Church

  1. I’ve said it many times, and this story proposes the same thing. If Jesus were to make an appearance at most “Christian” churches, he would be treated in largely the same manner that he was by the Pharisees. We’re all for God moving and leading, as long as he does so in the way that we’re comfortable with.

    Great post!

    Tim

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