The time: Easter Sunday morning. The place: Texas. The event: The very first service in the church’s brand new facility.
The weather: Very hot and humid — hot enough that the church custodian had started the air conditioning units well ahead of time in order for the sanctuary to be comfortable during the worship service.
One of the guest speakers was the local high school football coach. When he ascended the platform, the coach noticed that there was quite a disturbance in the choir loft behind the pulpit on the platform.
The choir was getting rained on from the ceiling of the sanctuary. Water was dripping from above the choir loft and gradually increasing.
Quickly two fellows went up into the attic of the building and began to walk toward the leaking spot. They discovered that the air conditioner unit which was located in the attic right above the choir loft had clogged up and the water condensation was backing up and overflowing right through the ceiling into the sanctuary.
The very danger that one hopes to avoid when walking in the attic of his home is exactly what happened.
One of the men accidentally stepped in between the studs, and he suddenly came crashing through the ceiling of the sanctuary. Not only was there water dripping on the heads of the choir members, but now there were also pieces of drywall falling directly on the head of the speaker.
For the young man had fallen through the ceiling exactly above the pulpit! He fortunately caught himself on the trusses, so all that the congregation could see was the ceiling falling and the legs of the young man flailing through the hole.
Now the speaker, looking up at the ceiling falling away and the legs of the young man falling through the hole created there, immediately recalled the Gospel account of Jesus healing the paralytic, who was lowered through the roof of the house by his four friends (Check out Mark 2:1-12).
So without missing a beat, after all the hub-bub of the congregation had died down, the speaker turned to the pastor and said, “Pastor, you didn’t tell me you were planning for a healing service today!”
Now that story would be amazing enough if it stopped right there. But it doesn’t.
After the service, the pastor was greeting those who came to church that morning when a man came up to him and shook his hand. He said his wife had been nagging him for weeks to come to church with her. And for weeks he had been fairly successful in avoiding that task.
However, on this particular Easter Sunday, the wife had apparently won the argument and convinced her husband that he should accompany her to the service. And just before they entered this sanctuary, he had turned to his wife and said, “It has been so long since I have been to church that when I walk in the roof will probably cave in!”
That man told the pastor he had not expected that to be a literal prophecy!
I suspect that not many of us have experienced such dramatic occurrences when we have gone to church. From a building perspective, I hope that we don’t! But I often wonder what we expect when we DO go to church! In most cases,
I believe that some people would say that what they expect to experience is a bunch of people who dress up in uncomfortable clothes, stand up and sit down at odd intervals throughout this service, sing old songs that nobody seems to know anymore, and listen to a boring message based upon some obscure Bible passage. Now
I’ve got to admit, that does not sound very appealing at all – even to me!
But the Word of God has a different sort of perspective. Hebrews 10:24-25 tells us that we should not “…give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
We are told to meet together for the purpose of encouraging one another, spurring “one another on toward love and good deeds.”
And in Acts 2, we are told that, in its very beginnings, the early church “… devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. … Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people.” (See Acts 2:42-47)
When the early church met together, it was a great time of fellowship and worship and teaching. They were there for each other and for the Lord. It was not a time for them to gather together and listen to radio station WII-FM! (That’s “What’s In It – For Me” for those of you who don’t know!)
When those folks got together, they were not coming to have their own needs met, but to see how they could meet each others’ needs! In the process, lo and behold, they discovered that the greatest needs of their lives were ministered to as well. We are told that “…the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” (Acts 2:47)
The next time you are thinking about going to church to have your own needs met, remember the early church!
Oh, and one more thing: Whenever you think the roof is caving in (in your life), keep looking up!
God bless …
Chuck Tabor is a regular columnist for the News Journal and a former pastor in the area. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.