Third Sunday of the Year

Posted on Jan 31, 2019

About two years after I was ordained I was sitting alone in St. Patrick’s Church in Eau Claire. I was off to one side in the dark. Suddenly the side door from our school playground opened. Two little heads poked in and took a quick look around. It was noon recess. They didn’t see me and marched right in.  I recognized them as two of our second graders.

They began to speak, argue really. They had decided to play church and what better place to do it then in the real thing. They argued about who was going to be the priest. Finally, they settled on a compromise. The little boy said to the little girl: “Okay, you can do the praying part, but I get to do the talking part.”

With the compromise reached the little girl went up to the top step, opened her arms wide in the way I guess I might have looked to her and said: “Holy God, Holy God, Holy Jesus. AMEN” Silence. Then she looked at the little boy and admonished him. “You didn’t say ‘Amen’.  It doesn’t count if you don’t say ‘Amen.’   Now I have to do it all over again.” Which she did. This time the little boy did as he was told and responded loudly, “Amen.”

Then it was his turn.  The little girl went back into the big presider’s chair,  hiked herself into it and sat waiting. The little boy had his turn.  He said: “God loves you and wants you to be happy, so please, please be good.  Amen.”

Then the little boy grabbed the little girl’s hand and said, “We gotta hurry now and get our car out of the parking lot before everybody else does.”
You and I come here to church a lot. And we listen to this word handed down, generation to generation, until it has come to us. And we listen for encouragement, for hope, for something which makes sense out of what happens to us  and what we do.

Paul goes on at great length today, about how we are all part of the same body–we all have some function to perform, some place here in the assembly, something we can do for each other. Beneath it all is the most important function we perform and that is to speak of God to each other –just as those little second graders could do, and did do.

In the novel, The Color Purple, there is a conversation between two black women Celie and Shug.  The latter says: “Celie, tell the truth; have you ever found God in church?  I never did.  I just found a bunch of folks hoping for him to show.  Any God I ever felt in church I brought in with me.  And I think other folks did too.  They come to share God, not find him.”