Sometime around 1989 while I pastored First Baptist Church in Columbus, Ohio (a stint that lasted all of three years–my current pastorate is in its 21st year), I preached a sermon that referenced the great windmill tilting hero, Don Quixote. A week later on the next Sunday, I entered the church and was met by a child of about 10 years old. He may have been more like eight. Anyway, his father told me that his son wanted to give me something.
This was out of the ordinary. Usually I would be met with a range of issues from poor heating to someone mad at me for not sending them a birthday card. So to have a child greet me in the morning before anyone else was sweet. It would only get sweeter.
I kneeled down to the young boy’s level and asked him what he had. From behind his back, he brought out a beautiful wooden statue of Don Quixote and he simply told me he wanted me to have it. Like I’ve indicated, I’ve been pastoring and preaching a long time. But his child’s generosity is something I remember to this day. He had overheard the Gospel and out of his own possessions, he brought me a gift. I was so surprised and deeply touched by his kindness to me. I took the statue and looking up at his father a moment, said to the boy, “how about I keep it a week and enjoy it and then return it to you?” I didn’t want to deprive him of that pretty sculpted piece but I also wanted to confirm his Christlike gesture.
I don’t know what you want when you show up in worship. Maybe you’re there to simply have some company. That’s okay. Fellowship and kindred spirit is crucial for a healthy life. Believe it or not, I know there are a few in any given church at any given time who simply show up to gripe and keep the pastor “honest” by rude behavior or comments. But if we’re really looking to be transformed and to see our churches transformed, we will find a way to enter that sacred space each week as this child did. Out of an overflow of a generous heart, he came to church and offered his gift. It is a gift, by the way, that continues to heal me twenty-four years later.
This Sunday, how about meeting me in the sanctuary where, in worship, we pour our gratitude out in order to thank God and bless others?