Recently my family and I had the chance to take a weekend getaway, which meant I was not preaching. Waking up on Sunday morning, on the farm, was serenity at its best. It didn’t take long for our 8 year old, Luke, to ask Angie, “what are we going to do for church?” Of course she assured him we would have a time to read the Bible and pray once everyone woke up. His response was encouraging and convicting, “Well we’re still going to have church, right?” He continued, “Because I have a plan.” She asked, “What’s your plan?”
Trey can start the service with prayer.
Mommy and Colt will sing 2 songs.
We’ll take up an offering.
Nathan (our family friend who was with us) can close the service in prayer.
“What about daddy, does he get to do anything?”
“Well, he’s got to do something. He can’t just sit there. Its worship!”
About an hour later, we could hear the sound of the 4 wheeler coming up to the house to pick us up for church (just like the golf carts do in our church parking lot when you park really far away.) When we were politely dropped off at the barn for the worship service, we found the chairs and platform area already set up. What commenced next, and oh how I wish I had videoed the service but am thankful I was one of this small congregation, was that I would be captivated by the greatest sermon I’ve heard in a long time.
As the man in charge, Luke told Trey it was his turn to pray. Sticking with his plan, Mommy and Colter then got up to sing and lead us in singing (“Whom Shall I fear?” by Chris Tomlin and we all joined in on “Jesus Loves Me.”) Then the offering bag was passed around (just like we do in the Crossing and Marshall services). We collected a pocketknife, a candy wrapper, and a $1.00 bill. Taking his cue from the conclusion of the offering, Luke stood up and laid his Bible on the table asking us to open our Bibles with him to John 1:1. His sermon began:
I want to tell you “What Jesus came to do.” Let’s stand and I’ll read John 1:1. “In the beginning was the word and the word was with God and the Word was God.” Ok, sit down. I want to ask you a question. (With a long drawn out vocal inflection) W-H-Y did God use the word, ‘word’ to talk about a person? (long awkward pause as we are each trying to figure out if this is a rhetorical question) B-E-C-A-U-S-E it’s not just a person, its Jesus! (placing his hand firmly on the open Bible before him) Everything in this Bible is God’s Word. Its right. He said it! Jesus gave us His Word. He brought it down to us.
Now, turn to John 3:16, ‘For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.’ But watch this, it gets even better: verse 17 says, ‘For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world but to save the world through Him.’ Do you know what that means? It means He didn’t come to condemn. He came to save everyone. So, He came for us. He came to die for us. He came to save us.
Now, look at the next chapter, (at this point Colter leans over to mommy to ask, ‘how much longer?’ and Angie sweetly replies, ‘I’m not sure sweetie, he’s like his daddy.”) Luke continues, ‘John 4 says, ‘Now Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that He was gaining and baptizing more disciples than John—although in fact it was not Jesus who baptized, but His disciples.’ See, the Pharisees didn’t like Him. Not everybody likes Jesus. But He came for us anyway.
(And now for the first time in his sermon, Luke steps away from behind the table, shutting his Bible and saying), Let me tell you a story. Last night I went to a drive-in movie, well all of you went, because we went together. It was my first drive-in movie I’ve ever been to. We saw that running movie; I don’t remember the name of it (it was MacFarland, USA). But there was that kid who did everything for other people. He was always thinking of others. Some people didn’t like him. Well, that’s like Jesus. He’s always thinking of others. Not everyone likes that, but that’s what He does. Ok, that’s it.
Nathan (our family friend who was with us) stood and prayed the closing prayer. Then I don’t know if what happened next is a postlude but it certainly was worth sticking around for. Luke broke into Preacher impersonations. Preachers he has seen me watch and listen to were readily recognizable in his retelling of his own sermon imitating their voices and mannerisms. It may not have been very worshipful but it was very telling.
Life Lesson #1: Children are sponges, be sure they are getting the most of what matters most. (Don’t miss church!)
Life Lesson #2: Ten-minute sermons can be more memorable than 40-minute sermons. (And when you’re at church, listen, because God can speak through anyone!)