(As seen in CFW Event #13)
It was the second step up to the podium that sent Marc lurching forward. He landed on a little plastic tree that had stood beside the pulpit for nine years without being attacked by a clumsy young pastor.
Deacon Barrett gave Marc a hand up and set the tree to rights before slipping back to his seat.
Marc nodded and murmured “thank you,” as he stepped to the pulpit.
He cleared his throat and pulled the microphone closer.
The screech of feedback echoed through the room.
He saw Deacon Barrett cover his mouth and glance up at the ceiling.
“Hello,” Marc said, finally getting up enough gumption to speak, “My name is…Marc Bryant…and I am…you’re new pastor.”
He reached into his pocket to pull out the index cards on which he’d written his sermon. He couldn’t get them out and then they came all at once, shooting out all over the pulpit and the floor.
Marc stared down at the mess of cards and felt his face grow hot.
Deacon Barrett closed his eyes and slowly shook his head.
Marc looked out at the congregation and blew out a long breath.
He’d have to wing it.
Then to his horror, he couldn’t remember a single word he’d written.
He’d come here ready to wow his first church with all the profound theology and slick oratory he’d learned at the seminary. Then it had all gone out the window quicker than a line drive to center field.
Good grief, he’d crashed and burned like a faulty firecracker on the 4th of July.
Suddenly a little girl ran up to the pulpit and stuck out her hand.
“I have a quarter for the offering,” she said, “I wanted to give more, but it’s all I had. Do you think it’ll help?”
The girl’s father slipped up to the podium, mouthing an apology.
“It’s okay,” Marc answered, kneeling down before the girl.
Taking the quarter, he smiled, “I think Jesus is really happy you gave this today.”
The girl smiled as her father ushered her back to their pew.
Marc moved back to the pulpit and held out the quarter, “This single quarter…is worth more to God than a whole offering plate full of checks written out of piety…because this quarter was given selflessly…and out of love. And isn’t that what it’s really all about? Love? Most of the time, though, it seems like we’re so caught up in everything else that we forget to show love…to anyone.”
He gave a little laugh and continued, “You know I had a sermon planned for today…but I think instead we’ll take a look at what the Bible has to say on love…the kind of love that’ll run up to the front of the sanctuary just to give the pastor a quarter for the offering.”
Laughter rippled through the congregation and Marc opened his Bible.
Glancing up, he saw Deacon Barrett smiling and nodding as if to say…“You’ll do.”
© Whitney L. Schwartz