Monday, March 31, 2008
Small is Beautiful
I preach each Sunday at a church similar to this in Adamsville, Texas. It is actually a Presbyterian church which was established in 1897. The building has been there since 1906. It is a long drive early each Sunday morning out there, but I enjoy it. It keeps me from being in the theoretical all week long. Sometimes you never know what you are going to hear out there. For instance, my first Sunday out there, they told me they always have a time of special music. I thought, that's great, somebody from the church gets up and sings. Then I found out that this is actually done by CD. My first Sunday Elvis was in the building singing "He Touched Me." Since then we've had everything from MercyMe to Scottish Bagpipes for "special music" time. As you might expect at a rural church, you hear things that sometimes make me wince or laugh to myself. My favorite was when we had a young boy out there and I mentioned HIV in a sermon. He says in a voice loud enough for me to hear, "Mom, it's not HIV, it's HIJKLMNOV!" Half of the 20 people who come are related in some way or another. However, this church will surprise you. One man, Mr. Perkins, is 90 years old. Last November, he set a world record in the shot put for people 85 and older. He also survived in a Japanese war camp for over 600 days. There is Judge Pru, an 87 year old man who might be the biggest patriot I've ever met. He's one of those guys people in my generation like to poke fun of his American pride. However, a few Sundays ago he described in tears how much this church meant to him. He described about how much they love each other, pray for each other during the week, and how proud he is that they give about 30% of their money to a children's home. There is Bob, who got all bent out of shape a couple weeks ago because the KJV Bible had "doest thou believe in the Son of God?" and the version I read said, "Do you believe in the Son of Man?" He didn't understand that these were the same terms. But Bob is one of those men who you can tell is in constant contact with the spirit. He is one of the most gentle and loving men I have ever been around. Bob encourages me in my preaching, and prays all week for the service that God may touch lives through the service of the church. I hear folk theology all the time out there, and I try to combat it in my sermons as gently as I can, but they have something that many intellectuals and serious students of the Bible do not: a community that loves each other, and a community, even though it is small, dedicated to spreading the love of Christ. We may not have the glamor and size of other churches, but the Spirit is there, and God is glorified just the same.