Saturday, February 1, 2020
Parables from a Residential Monk #4
Parable of Presence
…in big box stores, votes, banks, casinos, trenches, paint, bordello, board room, bedroom, locker room, fumas, farms, condos, condoms, cc’s, on the plate, at the job, in the womb, for pallbearers, under the hood, Montana, and…
Bigger is better…according to those that don’t know any, uh, better.
So he went to a big seminary with a big reputation for training big pastors for big churches.
“Somebody’s gotta minister to the rich,” he was reassured.
He was told he was part of a big legacy of the brightest and best for the biggest matters.
Quickly, he rose past not-really-peers from smaller seminaries with smaller reputations for training smaller pastors for smaller churches; for he knew, as was drilled into his bigger head, bigger pastors from the bigger seminary for the bigger, brightest, and best never went to smaller churches and paychecks.
Quickly, he hopped across those smaller steeping-stones to become among less than a handful of the youngest bigger pastors at some of the biggest churches in his formerly big franchise.
He was bigger; but he didn’t feel any better than when he was smaller.
He had climbed to the top of the ecclesiastical ladder of success only to discover he was leaning against the wrong building.
He fell off the ladder.
Years of thinking size matters made it hard for him to be smaller.
So he wanted to be bigger again.
He started climbing back up the ladder.
Then something happened.
It had been happening after America’s churches were at their biggest between WWII and the 60s; but now it was happening faster.
Attendances, finances, and memberships got smaller and smaller and smaller and…
Even the really, really, really big churches in big franchises of all the best flavors that could survive on dead people’s money were getting smaller and smaller and smaller and…
He was sad because he always thought size matters and bigger is better.
What was he to think about churches getting smaller and smaller and smaller and…?
He knew Jesus just isn’t what He used to be in America anymore.
He knew baptismal promises were right down there with marriage vows.
Except for the mirror’s reflection, he knew people that didn’t know any better wanted to blame anyone else including him for their churches getting smaller and smaller and smaller and…
He knew lots of things because he had been a big pastor that had gone to a big seminary with a big reputation for training the brightest and best to be big pastors of big churches.
Still, it’s hard to be smaller when you were bigger.
He became so sad.
“Maybe it’s me,” he prayed through tears to God, “and maybe it’s time for me to go away and back to You.”
“No,” said God, “it’s not time for you to go away…but it is time for you to come back to Me.”
He didn’t understand what God meant because he’d always thought he had a big relationship with God as a big pastor in big churches with big attendances, memberships, and bank accounts.
A revolutionary revelation came during a prayer meeting.
It was a small meeting of 12 in the big sanctuary of the church that could hold over 300.
He felt so small.
He was no longer a big pastor of a big church and he didn’t feel that he mattered anymore.
Just as he was about to end the meeting, the small assembly felt God’s biggest pleasure by His overwhelming presence and remembered Jesus’ promise: “Whenever and wherever just two or three believers come together to worship or pray or be together in My name, I will come and be with them and they will bathe in My presence.”
Suddenly, they didn’t feel small.
They didn’t feel big.
They felt calm, content, strong, sane, happy, and, most important, significantly special to God by His presence with them.
After the benediction, a woman said to the pastor, “Jesus said He would be present if two or three are gathered in His name. I got it! It’s not about how many or how much. It’s about Him! Who needs a lot of people when Jesus is there! That’s not so bad just having Jesus around! I’d rather be just with Jesus than in a stadium of thousands without Him!”
Just having Jesus around.
The pastor smiled.
He didn’t feel small anymore or the need to be bigger.
He felt special.
Really, really, really loved.
It always happens when God is present.
Sometimes we forget it is the Spirit in and around us not our size that matters most here and now and in the end.
Blessings and Love!