Sunday, August 19, 2018

Springfield Today May 1, 2018

May 13, 2018 by  
Filed under Blog

Good Moanin’ Springfieldians,

Sunday I told how last Wednesday, April 25th , was the 36th anniversary of when I first stepped behind the pulpit as a pastor and delivered my first sermon as a pastor. I said two things happened on that first Sunday in Marlette, Michigan that I have never forgotten. The first I told you about Sunday. The tornado siren, which was right across the street from the church, went off every day at noon – no one happened to mention that to me. So when the sermon went a little long – the siren went off and in that heartstopping- ear-splitting moment, and I realized the sermon, prayer, call to prayer needed to be done by noon from that Sunday on.

The other thing that happened that Sunday morning happened when I first walked up the steps of this little white framed, country church. It was the very first time I had ever walked into a church as a pastor. In a couple of hours I would preach the first sermon I had ever preached as a pastor.

Very early on that Sunday morning, I went all by myself into the sanctuary of that little church and did for the first time what I have done almost every Sunday, now for 36 years. I began to pray for the people who would be attending the church service on that Sunday morning. At that point I didn’t know them by name, so I just prayed generally for them.

Today, I know you by name, and so every Sunday morning, long before you ever walk through the doors of the sanctuary; I have prayed for you. I have lifted your name, and your family to the Lord. I have asked the Lord to speak to you during our worship gatherings.

And on that particular Sunday morning 36 years ago, I prayed something like, “Lord, I’m really scared. I’m not sure I can do this preaching thing. You’re going to have to take the feeble, stumbling attempt of this green, rookie pastor, and do something, because I’m not capable of doing this Lord.”

I then got up from praying and I just started walking around the inside of the church. It didn’t take me very long because the church was so little. But as I walked to the back of the sanctuary, I opened up a door that I thought was a closet, and I saw this thick, old, rope hanging down. I looked up and realized there was great big, old bell in the steeple of this old country church, and this rope is what you pulled to ring it.

I thought to myself, “That is so cool!” I grew up in the city, where we didn’t have churches with bells in their steeples. And if any of them did have bells they certainly weren’t rung early on a Sunday morning.

As I looked up at this old bell, I wondered if they still rung it on Sunday mornings. I couldn’t wait for the first person to show up so I could ask them, “Do you still ring the bell?”

Well, Dale Showers, the Sunday School Superintendent, was the first to show up that morning. I said, “Dale, do you still ring the bell to tell people it’s time to come to church?”

And he said, “Absolutely.”

I said (I felt like a little kid), a bit too excitedly, “Can I ring the bell?”

He looked at me like, “You’re our new pastor?” But he said to me, “Sure.”

So on April 25, 1982 at about 9:30 in the morning I grabbed that old rope and yanked on it, and continued to yank on it for about three or four minutes. And the crystal clear ringing of that bell began to resound and ripple through the airwaves of that small town. Everyone could hear it, and everyone new it was time to go to church. And people began to come out of their houses and make their way to their different churches in town.

Today I realize, that while our church, doesn’t have a bell to ring; and even if it did, if we rang it would probably just irritate people, not invite them to church – but I realize my job as pastor is still being the bell ringer. For 36 years by the sermons I preach, and the life I live, I think I’m supposed to ring the bell and call people to Christ. And while I’ve had many times over these past 36 years when I’ve really questioned whether I was ringing the bell effectively, I still know that’s exactly what God has called me to do.

If you’ve been in my office you know I have a large bell on a stand in there. It’s there to simply remind me to be a bell ringer. The truth is each one has a part in making us the church God has called us to be. Not everyone can be a bell ringer, but everyone, every Christ follower has a part in making us the church God wants us to be.

Are you doing your part?

We need bell ringers, and teachers, and nursery workers. We need greeters who make people feel welcomed and appreciated. We need singers and musicians. We need those who are good at handling finances and those who have a heart for outreach and those who intercede for others.

Are you doing your part?

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