Sunday, June 03, 2007

Changing Church Part XXII

“I have been studying a book on Ephesians for my devotions. I’m not very faithful at it; I’ve been going on this one book for months. But this week one thing that stood out was how God put together the body of Christ. I don’t know what it looked like when Adam was formed out of dust, but it must have been similarly complex and thoughtful. There is Christ, of course, the head. And then individuals redeemed, quickened, as though God were breathing into our nostrils again the breath of life. And then we are commanded to do good. This good, and our prayers for each other, and the gifts He has specially given each of us, bind this body of believers together as a whole. Together we maintain each other and serve the world. Most of this is from chapters two and four, I think. Yes, four.” He turned pages in his own Bible. “Oh, I don’t like my version today. Does anyone have a King James?”

A middle-aged man who usually sat on the end of the back row so he could be the first out offered his after checking the binding. “Could you read chapters two and four?” requested the first man. Of course the man with the Bible was a little uncomfortable. He had really been offering his Bible, not his services. Will gave him a big smile of encouragement. Though he stumbled through the ‘eth’s and ‘thou’s, he did a very good job. “I never read this thing. Who talks like that? Sorry,” he muttered, taking his seat. An elderly woman nearby patted his hand and whispered what a good job he’d done.

The clock ticked on, well past the usual time for a service. Anne’s muffins were almost gone. She had managed to get a good number of children nearby to smile at her, or at least at her baking. Her stomach growled.

“A song my wife asked if we could sing is Be Still My Soul. It’s an old hymn, but I know I’ve heard her humming it a lot this week. How does this work?”

“Could we get someone to play the piano?” Will asked. The pianist stood, carrying one of the hymnals from the backs of the chairs with her. Will found the hymn number and let everyone know. The pianist played a simple introduction and they sang. “All four verses,” the husband requested when they finished the first verse. Anne smiled at his wife, obviously holding four fingers under his nose as a hint.

“Ok,” Will stood after that. “I’m sure you’re all hungry, which reminds me. The early church ate together. It was a sign that their faith went beyond worship. It was life. I challenge you to make time in your schedules to invite another family from church to eat with you some time this week. Paul, could I get you to close in prayer?”

Paul prayed. Will sat. Others gathered their things and children and left. They talked a little. Everyone was smiling. Some were comparing schedules for meals. A deacon who tended to be quiet, and therefore hadn’t said anything during the service, came towards Will. “I think we need to tweak the singing. We want to sing more.”

“What do you want to sing?” Will asked.

“I don’t know.”

“When people know, we’ll sing.”

“And pray. Didn’t the early church pray a lot?”

“Any ideas?”

“Maybe we should open with prayer. More than just one person.”

“Good. You organize that next week. I’ll hand it over to you at the beginning, and that’s what we’ll do.” Will left no room for argument. Anne covered her grin with her hand. The deacon walked away with his brows furrowed, but not unhappily. “Hungry?” Will asked Anne.

“Did you hear my stomach?”


“Terrible. I didn’t get anything started cooking at home since I wasn’t sure how long we would be. But there are always sandwiches.”

“My wife is making fried chicken. You’re welcome to join us.” The man who last week was wearing a brown tweed suit was no longer grumpy. He had come up apparently for the purpose of inviting them to lunch.

Anne nodded happily and grabbed the hand of a little child who tried to take a second muffin. “You’ll spoil your lunch. Come on. Let’s find Mama.”

“She’s good with kids,” commented Mr. Edwards.

“She can’t wait to have ours.”

“I was going to ask when you plan to have some.”

“In about eight months.”

“Really? Congratulations.”

Will gathered his Bible and notebook and felt like he was leaving all sorts of things unfinished. “It will take about five minutes for me to get the car,” Will said.

“Don’t bother. Celia and I have three extra seats, and you’re only two.”

To God be all glory.

See the index for first and additional chapters.

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