Pastor Hudson was mad. He sat in the front pew of his church trying to look happy. Attendance was down this Sunday. Down a lot. This after all the outreach activities he had planned. He had preached frequently about the importance of witnessing to neighbors and friends. It clearly made no impact.
Worship ended and he made his way to the stage. With a plastic smile he said, “Good morning church. Isn’t God great?” There were tired blank stares. One “Amen” was heard from a lady sitting near the front row. Next to her sat her teenage son, Billy Jensen, who she dragged to church every Sunday. He spent every service text messaging his friends on his cell phone. “Let’s turn to Second Corinthians chapter twelve verse nine.”
A cellular phone from someone on the left began to ring. The obnoxious tune seemed to get louder with each second. A woman was franticly fumbling through her purse. Finally she found it. “Hello Sara, no I’m in church.” Pastor Hudson angrily looked at her. She was going to have a conversation right now? She started making her way towards the isle, unaware that his eyes were on her. Something inside of him exploded like a volcano.
“I have had it!” he yelled. Everyone, including the woman on the phone, froze. Billy Jensen put down his cell phone. All eyes were fixed upon the pastor. “I have done everything I know how to do to get you to listen to the word of God. How many sermons have I done on witnessing and evangelism; yet every Sunday it is the same people here.” There was silence.
“It’s not my fault,” said the women, the phone now by her side, feeling attacked. “I do try to witness!” There was a hush in the church. No one expected anyone to react the pastor’s outrageous statements.
“I also try,” said a businessperson sitting near the back of the church. “If you knew how antichristian my work place was you would understand how hard it is!” More people stood and gave their excuses. Now there were about a dozen on their feet arguing.
“What is wrong with you people?” Everyone stopped to look back. The man was a stranger to the church and it was obviously his first visit.
“You want to know what is wrong with us?” exclaimed the pastor, “we are all a bunch of crazy people!”
The pastor then did something even more unexpected. He sat down on the stairs next to the pulpit and burst into tears. He was sobbing, not in a silent controlled way, but deep gut wrenching sobs. It seemed to him to last for hours. He knew this had to be the end. No one would come back to his church now. It was over.
Finally, he opened his eyes to look at the stunned faces. Some looked as though they wanted to bolt through the door at any second, while others had tears in their eyes. He stood up awkwardly wiping his eyes and went behind his pulpit. It was late and the service should have ended ten minutes ago. He didn’t know what to say so he just said the first thing that came to his mind.
“Is there anyone that would like to accept Jesus as their Lord and savior today?” He said it really out of habit and without any feeling. He knew no one would respond after such a spectacle.
“I do,” came a voice from the front. It was Billy Jensen. He had tears in his eyes and slowly he made his way to the front of the church to the complete amazement of the congregation and, most of all, his mother.
“Me too”, came the voice of the visitor. His disgust with the church had somehow turned to wonder and need. Then more people responded. Five, then ten slowly made their way to the front. Pastor Hudson stood there bewildered at the sincerity of the faces now before him, longing to be lead to God.
He paused looking down at his pulpit. His eyes fell on the highlighted verse that was planned for today’s sermon. He read them aloud.
“Second Corinthians twelve verse nine. ‘Each time he said, ‘My gracious favor is all you need. My power works best in your weakness.’ So now, I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may work through me (NLT).”
This is so real. People do come to church with tired faces, for many real reasons.
I really liked reading this, and I developed a movie in my mind of this event at the church.
It was very moving...like a blast from God's Holy Spirit, followed by kisses and hugs.
Keep sharing! God bless you!
I really enjoyed this piece. I think so many pastors would love to react the way your character did! At first I wasn't sure where it was headed but you brought it together beautifully with the verse at the end. Praise God that he uses our weaknesses to show his glory!