“The very essence of grace is to receive the gift of laughter – especially when the joke is on us.” (William Willimon)
Episode 2: Did You Forget Something?
A few months ago, I confessed to you the horror in my mind when I proudly announced in worship that Jesus was born on EASTER.
I was the beneficiary of the kindness and patience of people like Dr. Bruster (he didn’t fire me on the spot) and my wife Jan (she actually let me enter our house that afternoon, even after that moment of family embarrassment). I’d like to pretend that has been my only struggle with major religious holidays… but who in their right mind would believe that?
About midway through my educational experience at Centenary College, I made the important decision to switch my major from Business to Christian Education.
Well, that prompted the pastor of my small, hometown church to invite me to give a Children’s Sermon on the Sunday after Christmas. I had never done anything like that before, so I was predictably both nervous and excited. After getting back home for my holiday break, I thought a lot about the message I wanted to share and what kind of supportive visuals would be helpful. I convinced my Mom to wrap a big box with festive paper and a holiday bow. It looked absolutely beautiful.
On that Sunday morning, I sat with my family in the front of the sanctuary that seated about 200 people. There were a number of young children who were sitting with their families as well. When it came time for the Children’s Sermon, I walked up to the front with my gift box and sat down on the steps. Amazingly, my nerves settled quickly and I actually had fun using the box to illustrate the Gift of God’s Love that we enjoy and receive in the birth of the Christ Child.
In my mind… I was articulate, insightful, and deeply moving. I returned to my seat with a smile on my face, trying not to high-five myself for my rousing success. I sat next to my high-school-aged brother, who looked me in the eye and said something like this: “Nice job, Bro. But next time… you might actually want to invite the children to come up and join you!!!”
At any age of our lives, perfection is always elusive. Sometimes our learning moments happen in public. One of the gifts of God’s presence is an indwelling awareness of the wonder and enjoyment of graceful growth, and the realization that life is always more meaningful when we invite others to join us.
Dr. Mike Marshall
Associate Pastor of Leadership Development