The ghastly sight before the pastor at Cornerstone Church stopped him dead in his tracks. Momentarily seized with shock, it took a moment for him to speak.
Sinclair Southard was at church early, per usual, preparing for his sermon. The fresh morsel of cheddar cheese he routinely carried to the pulpit on Sunday mornings dropped from his trembling hand to the carpet.
Standing in the hallway before Pastor Southard was Junior Studderburger. The young volunteer had come to church early to tidy up. The teen’s triumphant smile quickly transformed to fright. Junior had been walking with a lifeless gray rodent dangling from a snapped mousetrap.
“Pastor, what is it?”
Junior’s focus shifted from his pastor’s wide eyes, to the cheese on the floor, to the mousetrap.
“What did I do? I noticed some droppings inside your old pulpit and I…”
Sinclair reached out his hand.
“Please let me have the mouse. It’s okay, Junior.”
The youth handed the trapped rodent to his pastor.
“I…I…I’m sorry, sir.”
“Don’t worry, son. Please pick that cheese up and put it inside the back of my pulpit for me.”
Pastor Southard turned and walked back to his office with his old friend, the mouse.
Sinclair sat at his desk. He laid Spot before him and released his limp body from the trap.
Tears welled in the aged pastor’s eyes.
“Well, Spot, old friend, what now?”
Years ago, when Sinclair first arrived as interim pastor, he had problems with nervousness when he preached. One Sunday morning he prayed about it. It was that day he first met Spot. Sinclair was at the pulpit, struggling to get his words out, when he spied a little mouse sitting unafraid before him on a shelf in the back of the dais. It was a cute gray critter with a patch of white hair. It made the preacher smile. Sinclair then presented his best sermon to that date. The next week he was Cornerstone’s full-time pastor. Since then he would habitually leave a piece of cheese for Spot, who was always waiting for him.
A knock at the office door startled the pastor. He quickly covered the mouse with a white hanky. Sinclair’s wife poked her head in the door.
“We’re ready for you.”
“Be there in a minute.”
Pastor Southard gently wrapped Spot in his handkerchief and placed him in his jacket pocket.
Behind the pulpit Pastor Southard again found it hard to speak. He glanced down to the shelf where Spot always sat. He began to get teary. He saw a small gold cross and a note laying next to the uneaten piece of cheese.
Sinclair read the handwritten message.
I’m sorry about the mouse. I don’t know what it’s all about, but I know the power of the cross can help. Please accept my apology.
Looking up, Sinclair could tell by the puzzled look on his parishioners’ faces he needed to explain.
The pastor clasped the cross tightly in his right hand. His nervousness fled.
“Today I want to share a message about an old friend.”
Sinclair reached down and patted his pocket.
“I also want to share about the power of the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
The preacher then placed the golden cross on the pulpit and motioned Junior to the stage and whispered in his ear. Junior left for the Pastor’s office.
“At times I have found it hard to preach from behind this pulpit. The enormousness of the responsibility would choke my words. But then, one day, the Lord gave a me small reminder in the form of a furry friend who was not fearful of my hulking presence.”
Sinclair went on to tell the congregation about Spot, the cheese, Junior and the cross. The people laughed and cried.
“In closing, I discovered my fears were small in the presence of our Lord, and not because of my friend, which was actually symbolic of me, but in the finished work of our Christ Jesus who daily gives us what we need to overcome our weaknesses.”
The pastor nodded at Junior standing in the back of the church holding a plate of cubed cheese. After everyone was given a piece, Sinclair picked up the morsel of cheddar he had for Spot and ate it and encouraged the congregation to do the same.
It wasn’t exactly scriptural, but from time to time, Cornerstone Church would have bread and cheese with their juice when they served communion
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