When we were serving the church in Pleasant Garden, Shirley and Joy had a yard sale. As you know, I do not do yard sales. Nearing the end of this yard sale, a lady was browsing around the leftovers and asks this question; “Do you have anything left, perhaps inside the house?” My daughter-in-law quickly responds: “We have the lump inside.” Speaking in “womanise” this lady replied: “Oh no, I’ve got one of those. I don’t need another one.” I guess you know they were talking about me lying on the couch. And somehow without even mentioning that they were talking about a man lying on the couch on a Saturday afternoon, both of them knew exactly what they were talking about.
Today at lunch, after church, we ate at Red Lobster. Our waitress – I kid you not – was named “Krazia”. I could not believe it, but I think both parents need to be slapped. I know everyone must have nicknamed her or called her crazy.
As most of you know, the lectionary text for today was Luke teaching the disciples how to pray. Dr. Howell approached this from a very creative and meaningful way. In this text it not only talks about how to pray, but also about a neighbor coming to your door at midnight and knocking on the door asking for help. He flips this text around and places you and me, the church, on the inside of the door, and the world and its needs on the outside knocking… asking for help.
He tells the story about him and his associate walking into the sanctuary one weekday afternoon, and noticed a lady kneeling at the altar rail. She was praying, not silently but out loud. And the more she prayed the louder she got. Until she got to the end of her prayer, in which she is holding her fist up in the air, shouting at God: “God, I need some help down here”! James says we could have just knelt down and prayed with her and sent her on her way, but instead we listen to her story, we found her a place to stay, we helped her find a job, we put some friends in contact with her. In other words we answered her prayer.
Sometimes people ask if prayer works, really works. James Howell says: “It depends on if the church is listening”. He goes on to state what I have stated many, many times – that there is no reason whatsoever that there should be anyone hungry in the city of Charlotte, in the city of Winston, in the city of Greensboro, in any city in the United States of America. Because we know that the church has enough resources and enough power that hunger is a solvable problem. The problem is that the hungry, the needy, the lonely, the disenfranchised, the people who need the church are on the outside knocking, and we are on the inside sleeping – like that lump on a Saturday afternoon. We don’t hear them knocking. We don’t go to the door.
Isn’t it time we act a little Krazia and answer the door – and becom part of answering the prayers of the people of God!
Dear Lord, we thought we were the ones that were knocking and asking, but we are the church – we are on the inside. Help us to know that we are the church, and to become more like the church, get off our couch and answer the door, in and through Jesus. Amen.
Grace and Peace
Go to iTunes and sign up for the podcast of Myers Park United Methodist Church. Usually by Tuesday afternoon you will be able to listen to Dr. Howell’s sermon.