4 W Seminary St - Liberty, Indiana
Edwards Memorial United Methodist Church
“…seventy miles! Each way!”
I ran across a picture of an old friend this morning. Shirley Begay. I met Shirley one Sunday morning on a mission trip to the Four Corners Native American Reservation. She walked through the door of the church at 10:05AM. Problem was, the service had started at 8:30AM. Seeing as how I was in the middle of preaching, my sanctimonious side was a little singed by her tardiness.
Later, the Native American Pastor serving the church introduced me to Shirley, sharing with me that she was seventy years old, and that every Sunday Shirley hitchhiked seventy miles to church!
I was stunned. “Thirty-five miles to church…and then thirty five home?!!!” I stammered. “That is amazing!”
Shirley simply smiled and, and in the quiet way of the Navaho replied, “No… seventy miles each way. Nothing in comparison to the journey my Savior made for me.”
“Nothing in comparison to the journey my Savior made for me.”
The memory of that moment will remain with me forever. Like a sudden slap to the face, I am reminded of all the excuses I have made in efforts to justify not attending worship…on Sundays and at other times. “I don’t feel well. I have worked so hard all week…I’m tired and need a day of rest. I was out so late last night. The kids have a ball game. We’ve been gone every day this week. I don’t want to put that tie on! I’ll make up for it next week. The choir is off this week…so am I!!!”
Our recent trip to Red Bird Mission in the Appalachian Hills, too reminded me of the sacrificial nature of true devotion. Though poor, often hungry, living in shacks and of faltering health, these quiet mountain people practice a simple, foundational, FAITHFUL worship of a “here and now Jesus” of whom they seek constant contact. And, at least on Sundays, contact HIM they do, often in tiny, one room churches clinging to cliffsides or in hidden, secluded hollers.
Brothers and Sisters in Christ, there are many reasons to miss worship…Sundays and otherwise. Jobs, illness, age, disability, and countless other issues preclude the possibility of our presence. Obstacles can be real, painful, and frustrating.
Still, I encourage all of us to take a look at our own, personal reasons for not being active, worship participants. Many are justified, and some are merely justifications. As Shirley and the gentle folks of the Appalachia reminded me, our sacrifices are nothing when compared to that of our Savior.
See you in church…
He’s Coming Back!
Pastor Scott Bell
April 1st, 2018