Each week, I spend a good chunk of time working on the sermon that I'll preach on Sunday. When it's all said and done, my notes are about the length of a 10-page term paper, and I typically speak between 45-50 minutes. But last night, I had the privilege to preach a sermon that was one second in length.
I left the church later than normal last night. Right around 7:20pm, I started walking to my car when I noticed a woman and her three young grandchildren playing on our church playground. I said, "Hello," and then I asked her, "Do you or the kids need to use the bathrooms or anything before I go? I can wait to lock up if you need anything inside."
She was thrilled that I offered this and she rushed the kids inside to use the bathrooms. While they were doing that, I went into the snack cupboard in the kitchen and got some pretzels for the kids to snack on when they went back outside to play.
In speaking with the grandmother, I learned that she didn't expect to be taking care of her grandchildren last evening, but their parents were both busy and asked her to fill in until they could get home. She wasn't sure what to do with the kids, so she took them to get hot dogs at 7-11, then brought them to our playground.
Apparently, the children, ages 6, 5, and 3, had never been inside a church before. One of them politely started taking off her shoes when she came inside. We told her that wasn't necessary. One of the other kids, a 3-year-old little girl asked me, "Do you have a dog?" She thought the church was my home and wanted to play with my pets.
The oldest child, a 6-year-old boy, asked, "What do you do here?" I told him about some of the things that are done at a church during the course of the week and I showed everyone the pictures that are posted of our children's programs. I also invited them to participate in these programs, including our Summer Kids' Camp, if they were interested.
At that point, the 5-year-old girl asked, "Is this your house?" Before I could answer, her grandmother said, "This is Jesus' house." Then the little girl said, "Jesus is dead." I was surprised that she was familiar with the name of Jesus because her grandmother had told me that they were basically being raised without any religious training, but sad that her perspective of Christ was that He was dead.
That's when I had the chance to preach a "one-second sermon." After the little girl said, "Jesus is dead," I replied, "He died, but then he rose again, and He's very much alive right now." This was new information for her, but I could tell by the expression on her face that she was happy to hear it.
All that to say, you never know when offering a moment of hospitality to someone else might also give you the privilege to make a few new friends while also granting you the opportunity to share about the hope that can be found through faith in our risen Savior, Jesus Christ.
© John Stange, 2018