BARRIERS TO WORSHIP
Easter Sunday morning dawned sunny and beautiful. Flowers were a rainbow of color. The green grass of the church lawn was manicured. Everything was ready for the most important day on the Christian church calendar—well, almost ready!
The church parking lot was filling up fast and the overflow cars parked on nearby streets. The church crowd streamed into the church for the 9 AM service. Some had arrived early to share conversations and have coffee with friends and to get their favorite seat. All were dressed in their Easter best, wearing new dresses, suits and ties. Shoes were shined, hair combed and coiffed. Compliments flowed with audible “oohs and aahs” of approval. It was a scene of busy, busy, busy everywhere.
The ushers escorted people down the aisles to their seats. As nine o’clock neared, all the seats in each pew were occupied; even the overflow seats at the back and in the balcony were full.
As the church bell sounded its ninth ring, a shabbily dressed, unkempt elderly man showed up at the back of the church and began to shuffle down the center aisle. One of the ushers hesitantly followed the man down the aisle, not knowing where he would find him a seat. The church was truly packed—all seats in the pews were taken.
The unshaven old man walked down to the front of the church and sat down on the floor at the end of the aisle. The usher, not knowing where even he could find a seat, sat down next to the old man.
The choir sang and the pastor gave an inspiring sermon. The offering plates were passed and soon were piled high with money and checks. When the plate came to the old man, he placed a nickel, a dime and six pennies in it.
The service ended. Everyone stood up and exited the sanctuary, greeting, hugging, and talking with one another—but not to the old man. He was avoided and ignored - he wasn’t acceptable to this crowd. They didn’t want to contaminate themselves or their new clothes.
The usher helped the old man to stand up and said a few words to him and thanked him for coming. The old man put his hands to his ears, and it was then that the usher realized the man had difficulty hearing and probably hadn’t heard much of the message of the sermon.
Then the old man said a few words to the usher—in a foreign language. It was obvious he didn’t know much English either and probably hadn’t understood much of what the pastor had said.
So, why had the old man come to the church?
TO WORSHIP HIS RESURRECTED LIVING LORD!!
His focus had been totally directed towards God, oblivious of anything or anyone else.
There were many FENCES in place that morning—FENCES separated people from one another. FENCES blocked the true message from the Lord—a FENCE around the pulpit. Minds were FENCED in to thoughts of the world around them and not of the lasting and eternal. There were FENCES of uncaring negligence.
FENCES existed to avoid others who would like to be friends; other FENCES unknowingly “wounded” others so they would never return to that church.
Let’s take down the FENCES!
“And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption;…be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” Ephesians 4:30,32
At least one soul looked through the fence pickets that day and experienced the true meaning of Easter!