Lectionary Year A
March 21, 1999
Step V: Hermeneutical Bridge
Used by permission from Lectionary Tales for the Pulpit by Merle G. Franke.
That Dead Church Lives!
"I told the kid he set the program back 20 years," Distric Superintendent Ray Johnson told some of his colleagues at a district meeting. It was during a coffee break, and the four friends were swapping stories and anedotes of what was going on in the district.
"Who's the kid?" one of the men asked.
"Oh, that's right, you don't know him," Ray remembered. "He's that young pastor over in Somerville. He's so young looking that you'd think he's still in college. I probably shouldn't refer to him as the kid, but, gosh, he's a lot younger than my four kids!"
"They look younger every year," another chimed in. "And what did he say about setting the program back 20 years?"
"Oh, I quickly explained to him that I was kidding him, that my comment was supposed to be a compliement. I told him that congregation was stone cold dead when he arrived, and I thought he would just give it a decent Christian burial and move on. There's no way anyone would have blamed him - it was a dead duck!" He paused before adding, "Now, who knows? The congregation might well live another 20 years. Or forever," he chuckled.
"Like you say, it's been dead for years," one of the men agreed. "For a long time nobody would accept a call there."
"Nobody except a naive kid," Ray countered. "Well, anyway, it ain't dead no more! You can't believe the life he has pumped into that lifeless bunch."
"Like a breath of fresh air," someone suggested.
"More than a breath, my friend," Ray corrected. "It's more like a whole new spirit in the congregation. On my last visit to meet with their board, I could hardly believe it. Besides, the whole town's talking about how that congregation came alive."
No one spoke for a moment, then one of the four offered a theory. "You know, I think sometimes these young people come fresh out of seminary so starry-eyed and naive they don't realize it can't be done... so they just go ahead and do it."
The others were amused at his theory, but agreed with it. "We've seen that happen a number of times," one of them said.
Ray contemplated the last few comments, then before getting up to return to the meeting he said, "Well, I suspect the kid called upon the Lord a good bit for the fresh air that's blowing in that place."
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