The spring sunshine did its best to warm the stones of the old church as Claire, Kevin and I sat chatting in the fellowship hall. Through the cathedral-shaped windows, fleecy white clouds were chasing each other across the crisp blue sky. The clouds reminded me of our hopes for the mission.
“Peggy, do you have everything you need at the vicarage?” Claire asked.
“Yes, Claire, I feel so spoiled having the lovely en-suite guest room while the rest of the team bunks here in the church. Thank you very much for making it all happen. The team are so pleased to have the sturdy cots to sleep on. You’ve made us feel at home.”
“We have been anticipating this mission outreach in our little village for months. We’re delighted you’re here.” Kevin smiled.
“Any ideas about how many will come for the evangelism training?” I asked.
Kevin looked over his glasses at Claire. “We are hoping for 20, isn’t that right, Claire?”
“Maybe more if the team makes a big hit tonight at the ‘Bring and Share.’” Claire answered.
“Oh, crumbs, I left my tap shoes at home.” I laughed. “Believe you me, you don’t want me to sing. I can’t speak for the other team members.”
“No pressure intended. Just be your charming selves and I believe others will be drawn into the fray,” Claire said.
“Speaking of the fray, we need to plan for tomorrow’s services, right?” I asked.
“We hoped you would just fit in wherever you wanted; choosing the service that meets your needs as a team or as individuals. Our idea was to give you a Sunday off to just meet and greet. Now, if I could only work through how the Old and New Testament scriptures fit together for my sermon,” said Claire.
“Maybe a fresh pair of eyes would help? Shall we take a look?” I offered.
Kevin headed for his jacket near the door, “I’ll leave you Bible scholars to it. I’ll be off home and see how your Mum is doing shall I, Claire?”
“Thanks, honey, tell her I’ll see her soon.”
Claire and I opened our Bibles, prayed and began to look at the verses in question. I shared what I saw as a connection between the two passages and then nearly fell off my chair at Claire’s response.
“That’s it! Now I know why they wouldn’t connect for me. You should do the sermon. Would you?” Hope shining in her eyes.
Oh my goodness, what have I gotten myself into, I thought. But I said, “Could you give me a minute to talk to our Father about this?” Claire nodded and I walked around the corner into the kitchen area.
“Lord, what should I do?” was my first question. Usually, I had to wait to hear an answer.
The response was immediate, “What have you been waiting for?”
A few years previously I had been set free, through scriptural study, to follow the whole counsel of God, regarding women’s roles in ministry.
Before I could ask for a confirming scripture, it came flowing in. “My sheep hear my voice and follow Me.” Other questions began clambering for attention but as I reflected on the passage of John 10, His peace brought silence and strength.
I walked back to where Claire calmly waited.
“I see by the smile on your face, it is a ‘yes.’ I’ll phone Tim, the curate, and clear it with him and we are good to go,” she said.
Later, as I changed for the ‘Bring and Share,’ I prayed that it wouldn’t run too late. I still had to prepare my first sermon in an Anglican church.
“I hear we have a guest speaker from America for the eleven o’clock traditional service tomorrow?” Tim, the curate, grinned at me.
“Funny, I heard the same rumor. You are going to lead the all-night prayer vigil for
the old dear, aren’t you? Anything I need to know, since I have never been to an Anglican service, not to mention preach at one?” I grinned back at Tim.
By eleven o’clock that night, the sermon was prepared because God had flooded my heart with His presence and wisdom. I slept wrapped in His peace and awoke to a beautiful spring morning.
My first prayer that morning was so spiritual. “Lord, please don’t let me trip over the gown as I climb into the pulpit.”
Note: A fictionalised version of true events.
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