Moving down the familiar road their presence startles a few deer lazily grazing on the side of the road. Swooping over hills and around corners, they are surrounded by the smell of pine lingering strong in the warm night air. Anticipation urges them on. In their excitement they increase their pace causing the wind to pick up ever so slightly. Rounding the bend they see the small white church, its windows casting light on the surrounding hills.
At the front door the two stop, their hearts warming to the music of the beloved old hymns. Once in they slip into one of the back pews. Not hesitating they allow their voices to join in song with the congregation-- they bow their heads awaiting the presence of God. The four churches represented are egger to showcase their many talents as their voices rise loud and clear. Songs are sung and instruments are played and yet, the atmosphere in the room does not change. As the pianist rises from her bench they turn to look at each other with sorrow in their eyes. Was that it? But they wait, maybe when the pastor begins the atmosphere would change.
From the front of the church the pastor welcomes the visitors. Each visitor present knows that it has been several years since the churches attending have been able to lay down their differences to get together for Fifth Sunday Sing. They all remember times of incredible praise as the churches got together to thank God for the blessings they had received. They looked forward to these times when each church would put aside their own night service to join with others to display the talents each church was blessed to have. Smiling, they remember the glow of God’s glory as He would come to inhabit the praise of His people.
Finishing his opening remarks the pastor asks the congregation to participate in a time of thanksgiving concerning the work of God in their lives and the lives of those around them. Facing the church the pastor waits, expecting a great show of hands. As the silence grows he tries to hide his look of disbelief concerning the lack of response. Silence hangs heavy in the air.
Unable to stay in their seats, the two step into the aisle. Quickly they make their way over to Miss Walters. Last week, filled with dread, she waited for a call from the doctor with her mammogram results. They remember the morning she spent calling out to God, pleading for Him to turn the lump into something other than cancer. Waiting, they were sure that she would tell that not only had the test results shown no cancer, but that the doctor had found no evidence of the lump at all. But, because of her false modesty, she sat silent.
Next they turn to Mrs. Oliver in anticipation. Her son Matthew had had an accident the morning before, and narrowly missed being hit by an eighteen wheeler. They knew God had woken her just hours before the accident with a real concern for her sons’ safety. In response she had thanked God for keeping Matthew safe as he made his way home from an early morning shift at the plant. But, because she would never want anyone to think that she was bragging about hearing directly from God, she sat silently.
With deep concern they turn last to Mr. Donner. Last night had ended several years of trauma for his family. His nineteen year old daughter had finally came home after two years missing. He sat reluctant to tell anyone that Sandra was home because he was not sure she did not blame him for the problems that caused her to leave in the first place. Maybe if the church knew they would ask him to step down from his position, and so he sat silently.
With heavy hearts the two turn to leave. No hearts would be encouraged tonight by people lifting their voices to thank God. The two knew the look of disappointment and hurt that would linger on the face of their Master in heaven.
Hands on the front door, they turn one last time in anticipation as the pastor begins to speak. “Well, if no one has anything to say, lets say grace for the food downstairs. Remember to thank the ladies for their time and food preparation. And thanks again to our brothers and sisters for joining us here tonight.”
With disappointment and disgust the two leave the building. Stepping out they thankfully inhale the fragrant aroma of gardenias floating in the summer air. Faces toward heaven they raise their voices and thank God for His gift of love to a people so unwilling to acknowledge Him.
Rising lightly their wings stir the night air as they take to the sky. Their faces take on pure joy as their ears are once again filled with instructions coming from above. They are on their way to their next mission.
***Fifth Sunday Sing is a southern "thang" as far as I know. During the year, on the months that have 5 Sundays, several churches will get together at different churches for singing and fellowship. (If you are not from a southern Baptist background--fellowship, equals---food.) Usually during the church time each church will be allowed to perform a few songs. After the singin' the pastor of that church will give a short devotional and then call for testimony time. When this completed everyone sojourns to the church fellowship hall for sweets and lots of things that southern women are so good at making.
This is a fictional story. None of the people are real or represent real people.
But, truthfully, I can't help but wonder if this type of thing happens often. Guess we will find out when we get to heaven.
Till then, let's remember to give credit where credit is due. In other words--let's tell the world what our God has done for us.