Then God said to me: “Preach to these dead people and say to them, ‘Dead people, hear the word of the Lord! This is what the Lord says. I will breathe into your dead bodies and you will come to life. You will begin to smile at one another and once again offer a hug. You will welcome strangers, visit the sick and volunteer to help the helpless. I will put breath into you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.” Can God still breathe life into the church? Yes! But are we ready to receive God’s answers?
When it comes to the church, people are suspicious, resistant, and even hostile. Many say: the church is irrelevant and unrelated to their daily lives. Yet, during this pandemic churches often responded with more faith than fear. More perseverance than panic. We felt challenged but we trusted God to guide us.
Years ago, I invited two friends to visit our church on Christmas Eve and share “Clown Communion.” That night, during the service, two clowns entered the sanctuary much to the surprise of everyone. Why would two clowns come to a church at such a sacred moment?
Thanks to my less than inspired leadership, choir members argued, the congregation was mumbling and I was bewildered. “What’s wrong with our choir?” I wondered. Actually, the problem was not with the choir but with me. I was about to receive a lesson on spiritual leadership courtesy of God and our real choir director. At this point she stood up and said, “Larry, can I make a suggestion?”
I thought to myself: “Why is he saying this to me? Should I respond? Should I tell this young man he’s making a mistake? Should I tell him there is another way to enjoy life? Should I talk about God in a crowded department store to a stranger? I really don’t want to be a witness right now Lord. I just want to make my purchase and go home. Is there anything wrong with that?”
One important part of the John Wesley story takes place while John was on the ship. There is an anonymous quote: “Without storms we seldom look for the light. Without storms we cannot grow.” John and Charles Wesley faced many storms. John thought his mission was to preach to the Indians in Georgia but that mission was a complete and utter failure.
One man in the community had COVID-19 and nearly died. While in the hospital, he made a vow to serve God and come to this same little church. A mother, searching for answers brings her family to that little church looking for a fresh start. They become a source of inspiration and motivation for others. “With God’s help…I think I can — I think I can — I think I can!”