Rather than be present in spirit only, one Sunday, Jesus decided it was time for him to preach at First Church and so he woke Pastor Larry in the early hours of Sunday to inform him.
“Is that really you God?” Larry questioned.
“Yes,” said Jesus, “it’s Me. You have heard correctly. Shelve your sermon. I will preach today.”
The pastor tossed and turned so much so that his wife said in soothing tones, “You know how you need your rest, honey.”
Half dazed, Larry explained that Jesus had just met him in a dream in which He requested the pulpit.
“But the PAC, the ‘Pulpit Approval Committee’,” appealed his wife, “Have they approved Jesus to preach?”
Larry shushed her backed to sleep and then wondered how Jesus would show up and deliver the sermon.
That morning, after the hymns and the general announcements Larry anticipated a miracle that would really put First Church on the map. He imagined Christians traveling from all over the world to see the church where Jesus preached. He saw himself, the keynote speaker at conferences all over the world, telling of the night he trusted his dream, of the night Jesus talked to him and of the Sunday morning Jesus showed up and took over his pulpit.
Larry sat in their family pew while the confused congregation waited for the sermon.
The silence was deafening.
Larry trusted his dream and refused to preach.
“Well, this is quite the most unusual service I have attended,” said Elder Crabb as he made his way slowly into the pulpit. “Since no one is preaching, I have something to say. Last month when my wife died,” he started, “the world seemed to end for me. But you were there, Mrs. Jones, Johnny, Sid, Pastor Larry, and I wanted to thank you,” he said, making eye contact with each of the persons he mentioned. “Thank you for your constant love, the food, cards and gifts. Thanks also, all of you, for being at the funeral.”
He sat down. Quiet sobbing spread throughout the congregation.
“Well since we’re thanking others,” said Miss Betty, tottering to the front of the sanctuary, “I wanted to say how much I appreciate the yard work done at my home by the youth group. I can no longer get myself out to do it. Oh, and, I would also like to apologize for the way in which I have resisted young people in the past. I struggled with your music and youth sermons, but your help with the lawn was all I needed to show me I was wrong. You mow lawns better than you preach.”
The congregation applauded.
This was better than Pastor had ever anticipated and soon a line of people waited at the pulpit and every thanks received a warm applause.
Members began to hold hands across the congregation even though the sermon had run much longer than the expected twenty-one minutes. No one was clock-watching.
To everyone’s surprise a young child found his way into the pulpit, and, as if he had done it many times before. He moved Larry’s pulpit chair into position, and stood tall upon it.
“I do not really have anything to say,” he said with confidence, “I just have a few questions.”
Larry and congregation moved expectantly in their seats toward him, every person willing to address the theological quandaries of the young.
“How come some of you are rich and yet you do not give to those you know are poor?”
People coughed nervously.
“Why do you spend so much money on yourselves? There are poor people in every direction that could use your help? Why are some of you fighting amongst yourselves? What are you doing about AIDS, injustice, racism and world hunger?”
“The Lord started out so well,” reflected Larry, peering at his shoes, “and then a child goes and ruins it by asking political questions.”
“I am not done preaching yet,” said the Lord to Larry.
“Oh Lord,” said Larry, “I am sorry your sermon was interrupted by this child.”
“No, no,” said the Lord to Larry, “It’s me. This is the sermon. I am preaching, Larry. You have all done quite well at caring for each other. Now get busy, rid the world of injustice and prejudice. And by the way, keeping loving each other while your are at it.”