Friday, October 04, 2013

Will Jesus be at your church this Sunday?

You never know who you might miss when you miss church on a Sunday.  One Sunday evening when I was a youth pastor I was scheduled to preach.  As I sat on stage waiting to preach, a man caught my eye as he entered the service late while we were singing and sat in the very back pew.  He was an older gentleman who looked oddly like my own grandfather.  However, he was dressed in overalls (something my Grandfather would not have been caught dead in, especially in church).  He also wore a name tag that said “Charles Edward” and he carried with him a briefcase.

It was our tradition that our Sunday night services included a time for testimonies.  Typically people would raise their hand that wanted to share and an usher would bring them a microphone so everyone could hear.  On this Sunday Charles Edward raised his hand.  When the usher brought him the microphone, he asked if he could address the congregation from the front of the sanctuary.  He then came forward carrying his briefcase. 

He proceeded to tell us that he was “the tail of Jesus”.  That seemed strange but according to him, the Jesus that the Bible spoke of that was born in Bethlehem was the “head of Jesus” and he was in fact “the tail of Jesus.”  He then went on to tell us that in his briefcase he had something that would make worldwide news and that he was boarding a plane in the coming weeks with the contents of that briefcase bound for Israel.

Every person in the sanctuary was now thinking the same thing – this man’s got a bomb in his briefcase.  From the stage I could see mothers scurrying their children out of the auditorium while ushers prowled down the aisle looking for a chance to pounce on this mysterious visitor.  After what seemed like an eternity of his speaking, our Senior Pastor was able to discern that he was simply a harmless yet somewhat delusional old man.  He interrupted him and pointed at me saying, “See this young man.  He has prepared a sermon for us for tonight and we need to let him preach, but I’m sure that after the service he would be more than happy to spend as much time with you as you would like, hearing what you have to say.”

Charles Edward sat down and I preached.  No one in that church listened to me that night.  They all kept their eyes on the individual who claimed to be the tail of Jesus, still trying to figure out what he had in that briefcase.  When the service ended, Charles Edward came up to me, thanks to my Senior Pastor’s generous invitation of my time, and continued his very long story. 

I asked him what was in his briefcase.  He responded that in his briefcase were the blueprints to a superhighway that would be built from Jerusalem to Columbus, Ohio.  By the look on my face he knew that I was puzzled.  He then told me that when Jesus returned to set up his Kingdom, that he would return to Jerusalem but that he would then set up his throne in Columbus and this super highway would allow him to get there.  When I asked him why Columbus, his answer was very emphatic, “Because that’s where all the republicans are!”

Though completely true, this story is not a common happening in most churches.  After all, when was the last time you had a visitor in your church claiming to be “the tail of Jesus?”  That’s probably a good thing.  What’s sad is that many churches in America meet Sunday after Sunday and totally miss WHO church is all about – Jesus!  After all, according to Ephesians 5:23, Jesus is the head of the church.  As you get ready to go to your church this Sunday, be sure to take time to ready your heart to focus on WHO church is all about – Jesus!  

To finish the story, before Charles Edward left that night he asked me for one of our hymnals.  He also asked if I would write down my name and phone number in case he would like to talk to me more.  With a huge smile on my face I gladly wrote my Senior Pastor’s name and phone number inside of the hymnal and gave it Mr. Edwards, our mysterious Sunday night guest.

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