The service was almost over, the choir had retired to their seats in the main sanctuary with their family for the final closing prayers of the service. It was a special night, and there was soft music playing and the lights had been dimmed to provide a time of prayer and meditation. A young man wanders in through the side door of the sanctuary, he must have come in from the back door, he doesn’t know where he is or where he is going. He doesn’t look around the sanctuary as he steps through the door, but his eyes immediately find the kneeling rail of the altar; he does not realize that he is not alone. He kneels at the altar and prays and weeps. The pastor is behind the pulpit, he had been ready to close the service with a benediction and prayer, but now something strange was happening. This was out of order, out of time, the time for this had come and gone.
It doesn’t matter to the young man at the altar, he doesn’t know that other people are watching. The pastor pretends not to notice him and thinks, “Maybe I can just go on like he isn’t there, I’ll close the service and talk to him after.”
Soon that thought and the possibility of it vanishes, when this scraggly, weeping, praying man walks up into the empty choir seats toward the cross that hangs over the rear wall of the stage. His eyes are fixed on the cross as he groans and reaches out toward it as if he were a drowning man trying desperately to reach a rope that someone had thrown.
The pastor doesn’t know how to respond. The music is still playing as the young man sinks into an empty choir chair. The pastor sits down in a chair by the pulpit, lost for a proper response to this unorthodox event.
It is one of the choir members that comes up to speak to the man first. Sensing that the pastor was at a loss, and at the same time feeling inspired to speak to the man, she goes to him, takes him by the hand and begins to comfort him with words of assurance, with smiles and with compassion. The tears from the young man stop as he realizes for the first time that he is not alone, but instead there is a whole community of people around him.
Startled he looks around and tries to gain his composure. Slowly more choir members make their way up to the choir loft and assume their places, they are gathered around the young man, all putting there hands on his shoulders and smiling. Welcoming him into a loving community of faith. The organ music begins to play “Just as I am,” and the choir ministers to the young man in a beautiful embrace of love and song.
When the song is over, the pastor is given the words that he needs to speak now to all. “How many times have we missed out on the blessing of a lifetime because we said, “Not right now” to God. We tell God, “it’s not the right place” or “it’s not the right time,” but God doesn’t go by our time, God doesn’t care about what place we are at in the order of worship or whether or not it’s listed in the bulletin. This is God’s house, this is God’s time, and this (pointing to the newest member of the flock among the choir) is God’s child.”
I woke up… It was a dream I had. It was a good dream.
Thank you Lord!