Devotional: December 16th
I have a favorite cartoon and a favorite humorous story. The cartoon is one of those multi-panel setups with the first panel displaying a man sitting in a fishing boat with rod in hand and line in water. He is all decked out in the attire one would expect of an avid fisherman. He is extolling all the joys of being out in God's creation; the sun being like God's light and the breeze like His breath, the beauty of the lake and the trees and the wildlife. The next panel shows the man with a puzzled look on his face. The last panel shows a sheepish fisherman admitting, "I can't help it. I still feel guilty skipping church to fish."
My favorite story has to do with my profession and my pasttime. A preacher asked for a Sunday off, supposedly to take a trip. He took the trip alright; to a golf course a couple of hours away during worship. God was watching as were His angels. On the very first hole, a par four dogleg left, three hundred ninety-six yards long, the preacher stroked his tee shot. God caused the wind to blow a little more briskly than normal and made the ball sail far and hook straight up the fairway. The preacher watched in amazement as the ball disappeared into the cup for an astounding hole-in-one. The angels were incensed. God merely looks at them and asks, "So, who's he going to tell?"
Yesterday I felt guilty. Church services were canceled at the Minorsville Christian Church, the congregation to which it is my esteem privilege and honor to minister. They were canceled at a whole lot of other churches as well. All the really big churches in Lexington canceled as well as those in the town in which my wife and I live, Richmond. The reason was an ice storm which left the roads slick and dangerous. I had spent my time with God as I normally do every Sunday morning. It wasn't that I missed God. I missed the people.
I missed the joyful celebration of our early service, the exhuberation of the praise experience of that gathering. I missed the reverent worship of the late service, the quiet respect and honor given to God. Both of those involve people and not liturgy. I didn't miss the order of worship in either service. I missed the people who made it worship by letting it flow from their hearts. I missed the different voices, the different musical expressions, the warm handshakes and hugs. I missed my time with God's people.
There are probably those who breathed a sigh of relief and pulled the covers over their heads following the announcement of their congregation canceling services. They had an excuse to miss without feeling guilty. I can't help it. I feel guilty for some reason. It stems from one of my favorite passages of scripture. "And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching." Hebrews 10:24, 25 I missed exhorting God's people to love and good works. But Sunday's coming.
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