I greeted the people on my right and on my left in front and behind. That took all of about fifteen seconds. It feels like an eternity for this ‘minute’ of greeting your neighbor. Why do we have to do this anyway?
Such thoughts flashed through my mind every Sunday during this part of the worship service.
I watched Emy. She always went down from the choir loft and greeted just about everybody. Everybody knew her and she knew them.
I couldn't do that. I don’t know what I’d say. I don’t know all those people well enough. Besides they’d probably wonder who I thought I was - going around saying hi to everyone. Still, I wish I was more like Emy.
Oh, this is really agony. Is it really just a minute? Let’s get on with the service so I don’t have to feel like I should be trying harder to find something to say to someone.
Oh, good, finally! - Pastor Dave is about to have everyone sit down.
“Ok, everyone, take your seats. It’s great to greet one another isn’t it? Say, did anyone notice I gave you an extra minute this morning, I thought it would be interesting to see how you reacted,” Pastor Dave explained.
So that was it! Why would he do that, I wondered.
“You know I’ve often wondered why we don’t get more people here on a Sunday morning. What could be more important than worshiping God?” Pastor Dave asked.
Gee, I don’t know pastor, I thought sarcastically. Look around you. Could it be because of all the stony, solemn expressions on the faces? Looks like everyone’s really enjoying themselves.
As if he could read my mind Pastor Dave asked, “Do we enjoy coming here? Do we enjoy worshiping? Or are we thinking about what we’re going to do next? Why are we here, people?”
“If you’re here, just to go through the motions,” he continued, “then maybe we should have fewer rather than more people here.”
What are you doing? You’re killing yourself, pastor, I thought.
“When Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him and Peter said that he did, what did Jesus tell him to do?” Pastor Dave went on. He told him to ‘feed my sheep’. What do you think He meant by that?”
I never thought about it. Sometimes Jesus said confusing things, I responded silently.
“Folks, it couldn’t be more clear. Jesus was telling Peter to care for His people. And He’s commissioned us all to care for His people. Where do you think that starts? It could and maybe should start right here. When you have that minute to greet your neighbor, do you care? Do you ask how they are? How their week has been? Are they struggling with anything? Do you know anything about them, could you try to get to know something?”
Wow, I looked around and saw a group of people I’d never really considered too deeply before. Do they have needs like me? Would they appreciate someone, (me?) asking questions like Pastor Dave is suggesting?
“There aren’t many people who wouldn’t appreciate having someone ask them sincerely how they’re doing, and then really listen,” Pastor Dave continued. “And you could really surprise them and remember your conversation next week. It’s all about caring.”
How is he doing that, it’s like he can read my thoughts.
“God knows each one of you, your every thought, everything you’ve ever done or ever will do, and He loves you anyway. Do you love Him? Do you know one way to show Him you love Him?” Pastor asked.
Yeah, I think I do! I thought. There’s that verse that says: ‘for we cannot love God whom we have not seen, if we do not love others, whom we have seen.’ So instead of agonizing through that minute,
“Don’t make that minute a drudgery, folks. Don’t agonize over what to say, Remember, we’re here to worship God, to love Him. If you love Him, you’ll care about His flock." Amen.
I feel like this sermon was directed right at me, I marveled.
Oh, there’s Polly Baver, how is she doing on those crutches, I wondered.
"Remember to greet you neighbor on your way out and my God bless you all.”
Bible verse mentioned is 1 John 4:20 TEV
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