I like hanging around people who are not terrified of life when they get into difficult and challenging situations.I taught our young children’s Sunday School class this morning and I had them act out this Jesus Walking on Water and Disciples Terrified of Ghosts and of the Unknown story. I had seven kids – one narrator, one Jesus (Mark Jones) standing on a chair (mountain), one crowd (Katie the crowd), some kids in the plastic boat (small tub), some eating donuts and not paying much attention, we had the wind and large waves (me the preacher…lots of incessant wind), etc. Lots of energy and little attention being paid to the Story at hand. Until I asked them all to act TERRIFIED of the Ghost (Jesus). They all screamed, fell down on the floor out of the boat, and yelled for their lives. They interrupted both other classes in the building. I lost control of the class, which I never really had anyway.
That is probably pretty accurate to the original event. Stories in writing are so neat and clean while real life is so noisy, chaotic, unrehearsed, and disorganized…like class this morning. We adults clean up the stories too much. Kids tell the real story.
The disciples were terrified when they saw Jesus walking on water. We are terrified by what we do not recognize or understand.
Thinking about becoming a parent is terrifying. Thinking about a career is terrifying. Thinking about marriage is terrifying. Thinking about starting a new church is terrifying. Joining a small church is terrifying.
The attorney who reviewed our Church By-laws which we were submitting to the State of Texas in 2005 in order to start this church gave me three pieces of advice. 1. He said to not be bothered when 3 or 4 of the founding families of the church quit the first year. He said they will become terrified of the challenge and want to wrestle control from the leaders. He said to just relax and let them go. Families did leave our first year.
2. He said to not buy land or build within the first several years. He said that the ones who stay around Sunday after Sunday and set up and take down chairs in a rented building will form the core of the Church.
3. He said to conduct myself in such a way around town that I can go into any church or building in town 10 years from now and hold my head high. Act right and don’t be gleeful when this new church works out well, as he felt it would. He had helped found a church in New Braunfels and he knew the ropes.
It is terrifying in many ways to try new and risky things. It is risky and more terrifying to join a small church like this than to join a large church. In this small church you will become known and you will be asked to serve and work because you are needed.
Steve Jones Classic (the old Steve Jones in our church) once told a group of church members here in town at a church venting meeting that if their minister walked on water on Friday then by Monday folks would complain because the pastor’s ankles got wet.
I thought that was hilarious. Steve was not terrified to speak the truth.
You all know I can not walk on water. Most of you know I don’t even swim well. That is why Bert gets into the water with me downstream and assists me in our San Marcos River baptisms. I am not a water guy. Rusti had to work hard to get me to go to Schlitterbahn with 21 youth and 6 adults this past Friday. 12 hours at a Water Theme Park is a lot for me.
Jesus walked on water and it terrified the disciples. They thought he was a ghost. .
Vacation Bible School terrifies lots of people in church. Janice and I knew how folks avoid being volunteers for VBS back when we had our first VBS in June of 2005. We held VBS in June of each year so that all of you terrified volunteers would not spend your summer dreading VBS. This year was the first year we knew you were comfortable enough to have the VBS in late July and for that late summer date to not ruin your summer.
You are no longer terrified of VBS. Not after 4 years of very organized success. Many Christians are terrified of Vacation Bible School because they are terrified of getting stuck with leading a disorganized and chaotic mess. We have been blessed to have 4 years of organized leadership under Janice Jones and each year she has recruited 30-40 volunteers to help staff our Vacation Bible School ministry each year. We even get fire trucks, helicopters, pilots, and water day at VBS.
I got soaked this year at VBS under the fire hose. Last week I told of one of our precarious and articulate 5-year-old girls who was standing under the fire hose stream, getting blasted by the fire hose. She was asked by Janice, “How does it feel?”
She said, “It feels like hell.” Her grandmother standing nearby wilted in the heat of the comment. The little Texan girl was really saying, “It feels like hail.” Hail. Hell. All sounds the same in Texas.
Now the only part of VBS that remains terrifying to all is the cooking the meals job. Who wants to follow Don Fatout and is unsurpassable cooking? Randy stepped in two years ago and took over feeding 90 per night…after Don recommended that Randy take it over. Then Randy told Janice this year that he could not cook for VBS because he was going to be on vacation. Janice just changed the dates of VBS to allow Randy TO cook. Randy changed his vacation dates AGAIN!
So we lied as a church to two new members, Armando and Cheryl, and told them it was easy to cook for 90 VBS eaters for 4 nights. They were new members and they believed us…and fed over 360 of us in 4 nights this year!
Fresh Meat Steve Jones (new to the church Steve Jones) watched all of that from the VBS sidelines.
He talked his father-in-law into giving him an old 13-foot-long Bar-B-Q pit that was sitting and rusting out in a Texan field. Doing nothing. He eyed it long ago and finally got his daddy-in-law to donate it recently to Steve.
Problem was how to get it home to refurbish it.
Steve cut off the back of a rusty old pick-up truck, slapped a hitch on the front of the half-truck with old rotted tires and threw the old 13-foot-long bar-b-q pit up on the half-truck and proudly headed home.
I would have paid to have seen that.
Problem was Steve needed to gas up so he pulled into a filling station. Problem was a police officer was there soon. He got out of the cruiser and walked over to Steve’s mess.
No taillights. No license plate. Rotten tires. Rusted half-truck for a trailer with wires dangling. Pit wobbling on top, about to roll off.
Officer just stared in disbelief to what he was looking at.
Steve did not run away. He approached the officer and stood there by the officer and studied the mess with the officer.
Silence. Finally Steve broke the silence.
“Wanna buy ‘er?” Steve said to the officer. Officer looked at Steve with more disbelief than he looked at the illegal mobile pit.
The officer walked away slowly, shaking his head. No fine given.
Wanna help start a church? Wanna get married? Wanna have kids? Wanna buy ‘er? Wanna jump out of the boat and follow me on the water?
Next year Fresh Meat Steve is one of our four cooks for Vacation Bible School. He is going to use his newly rebuilt 13-foot-long bar-b-q pit.
Nothing terrifies him in life. Not even VBS or deciding to follow Jesus and serve others in a brand new church. Amen.
By GARY L. SMITH
Reverend – Christ the Redeemer Church