Journey with John
Sometimes I forget the significance of what happens in this holy place each week. A gentle reminder, on occasion, is a necessity. I’ve shared this story before. It never fails to minister to my spirit, so I hope you’ll excuse me as I share it again. Dr. Fred Craddock, was a master of the gentle reminder. He shared the following in “Craddocks Stories.”
The young woman twenty-eight years old, at St. Mark’s Church in Atlanta, said to me, “This is the first time I was ever in a church.” “Really?” “Yeah.”
“Well,” I said, “How was it? She said, “Kind of scary.” I said, “Kind of scary? Why?”
And she said, “It just seems so IMPORTANT…. You know, I never go to anything
important…. This just seemed so important.”
The more I think about it, the less gentle the reminder seems! What we do in this place called Church IS so important! But how many times do I consciously think about that solemn truth as I get ready for Sunday School, or worship, or Bible study, or any of the countless activities that bring me here? With embarrassment, I confess – not often enough. Here in this place, human lives are transformed. Here in this place, great mysteries of the universe are explored and puzzled over and prayed through. Here in this place, people meet a power larger than themselves. Here in this place, the lonely find companionship, the lost find their way home again, the grieving rediscover hope, the hungry find nourishment for the soul, the oppressed find justice, the war-torn find peace. Important things take place in Christ’s holy Church.
I wonder how radically I would change if every moment I spent being church was accompanied by the same sense of awe and wonder that led the young woman in St. Mark’s Church to whisper, “It just seems so IMPORTANT….” How radically would the world change if all who entered the church doors came with that understanding? The whole world could be transformed. I received a gentle reminder recently. A good friend of mine who has faced great hardship the last few months approached me after worship. Her face was just glowing with that look of “being in the Presence,” and she said, “Walking into the sanctuary this morning, it just seemed so alive with love. Listening to that last hymn, it lifted me to heaven.” My friend heard the sounds of heaven and felt the life in love. All I heard was a hymn…. I’m so ashamed… and so grateful.