Previous Challenge Entry (EDITOR'S CHOICE)
Topic: Home Group( 11/29/07)
The Umpteenth Time
By Sheri Gordon
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Pastor Steven cringed at the voice coming from the other side of his study door. He thought about staying quiet and pretending he wasn’t there, but she would eventually open the door to check. Maybe he could say he was in prayer, or meeting with another parishioner, but even that wouldn’t send her away.
Forgive me Lord for my less-than-Christ-like attitude. I am very grateful that I was blessed with a calling to this church right out of seminary. Please give me the extra dose of patience I need now.
Pastor Steven was ready to face, for probably the umpteenth time in his short four months, the biggest challenge at his new church. Miss Emily Perkins.
“Come in, Miss Perkins.”
Watching Emily enter his study, Pastor Steven bit the insides of his cheeks to stifle the laugh begging to escape. As usual, Emily looked like she would be more comfortable living in the 1950’s. She wore a soft pink dress, with matching belt and white lace collar. Her short brown hair was held back with a white headband, and she carried a white clutch purse.
“What can I do for you today?”
Pastor Steven neglected to offer Emily a seat, hoping for a short visit. Emily, however, settled herself into the faux leather chair opposite Pastor Steven’s desk.
“Well, Pastor, I’ve been thinking about those ‘small group’ things. I don’t understand why we need them, what with Sunday School and all, but since you keep bringing ‘em up in your preaching, I think maybe the Holy Spirit is tellin’ me to get involved. So I need you to find me a group.”
Pastor Steven let out an audible sigh of relief. When he first introduced the concept of small groups at Faith Community, many parishioners were hesitant to participate. A few members even left the church, wanting no part of the ‘new fangled’ Bible studies.
Emily chose not to leave the church over this issue -- although at times Pastor Steven wished she would -- but she did meet with him more than once to ‘educate him on how their church works.’ Pastor Steven had finally given Emily, and the few remaining dissenters, up to God. If any of them were going to join a small group, it would be through God’s hand. Now, it looked like that prayer might be answered.
“Well, good. Let me look at my list. On Mondays, the Whartons have a group.”
“That won’t work. It’s taco night at the vet hall. I can’t miss that. I help hand out tacos. I’m hoping to meet a man there.”
Having no response to Emily’s statement, Pastor Steven went back to his list.
“The Tuesday group meets at the Horners.”
“You’ll have to find someone to take me. They live in the boonies, and I won’t drive out there at night. Not since I hit that skunk. My car still smells.”
Not wanting the burden of finding a weekly driver for Emily, Pastor Steven moved on.
“The Chapman sisters have a group on Wednesday nights. They live right near you.”
“Nope. You never heard about me and Marlene? She stole my guy in high school, and I don’t want nothin’ to do with her. It’s bad enough I have to go to the same church. Just for the record, I was going to this church first.”
Pastor Steven knew that high school had been over twenty years ago for Emily, but he didn’t want to have a discussion about forgiveness right then.
“Thursdays at the Wilsons? You and Marjorie Wilson are friends … this sounds like a good group for you.”
“I don’t think so. Marjorie told me that Harold and Paula are in that group, and I really don’t care for them. He sometimes drinks alcohol, and she’s a show off with her new car and fancy clothes. I wouldn’t be comfortable there.”
Reluctantly, Pastor Steven offered the final group – the Friday study.
“Our only other group meets on Fridays -- at the church. And it’s led by … me.”
“That won’t work either. I have to leave Fridays open … in case I ever have a date. Well, you can’t say I didn’t try, Pastor. I guess small groups don’t work for me right now. Let me know if any new groups start, and I’ll be glad to give it a try.”
Pastor Steven rolled his eyes to the heavens as he watched Emily leave his office.
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