Jesus Came to Church the Other Day…
Last Sunday, started off like every other Sunday morning. My irritating phone alarm buzzed at 7:15am and slightly annoyed, I slowly got up (I’ve been meaning to change my alarm tone for months! I’ve been thinking of a lullaby tone). As per daily routine, I made my way to the kitchen like a zombie still struggling to open my other eye. Once I had placed five weetbix (reduced from seven once my diet started) in my cereal bowl, and ignored the ratio of the only three milk drops left in the bottle to five weetbix, I sat down and enjoyed my extra crunchy dry breakfast. Fast forward. I was having a break from leading the service and so I found a comfortable spot to enjoy worship and to hear what God was saying to me that morning. With people still arriving, and the soft sound of the organ playing some meditative tunes I noticed in the corner of my eye a small figure coming towards me from the right hand side. I looked up and there he was – it was JESUS! I was in awe! Was I still asleep!? I greeted Jesus, “Good morning, Jesus.” He didn’t reply but he knew I was there so I just smiled. He sat about two chairs from me. I looked around and some of the congregation looked at us smiling. It was a great feeling: Jesus was at church – OUR church - sitting next to ME! The service started, and Jesus sung along with us to the first hymn. His voice was young and pure and it sounded like he was singing in a different language – maybe Hebrew or tongues. I kept glancing over at him to see if he was okay. As the preacher that morning led us in prayer I closed my eyes and slowly zoned into prayer mode. Suddenly, there was a ruffling sound. Reluctant to react, I quickly opened my eyes to check on Jesus – he was okay – but he was opening a small packet of chips and began eating from it. I closed my eyes again. “Crunch, crunch,” was the sound as he chewed quite noisily – similar to my breakfast sounds. At this point, I had totally disregarded the prayer as I was officially distracted. At “Amen” I looked over to where Jesus was sitting and he was gone! He was now walking around in between rows and leaving a trail of chips as he wandered. By now, the preacher had lost us as more and more added to the challenge of “hushing” Jesus. Jesus must’ve been terrified as people around him were saying, “Jesus, shhhh! Keep quiet!” As many people picked him up in an attempt to control him Jesus started crying. His mother, now embarrassed, decided to pick him up and take him out of church so not to disrupt the service – after all, we were about to hear a sermon on Jesus! As they left his cries became more and more distant. Jesus never came back that day. Jesus never came back.
“Some people brought children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples scolded the people. When Jesus noticed this, he was angry and said to his disciples, ‘Let the children come to me, and do not stop them, because the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.’” (Mark 10:13-14)
If JESUS comes to YOUR church this week – please tell Jesus we are sorry and ask him to forgive us. Perhaps YOU will welcome him/her better?
Rev. Gary Mauga
“Jesus came over the other day…”
One day, I was working in my office when there was a knock at the door. It was quite a firm knock. I approached the door wondering why this person had not noticed the door bell. It was most likely to have been someone who had never been here before. I opened the door and there he was: it was Jesus! He looked different. He was older than I expected. He had a balding head and had grayish stubble around his chin. He was medium to fat build and about 6 feet tall. He wore an old singlet exposing his heavily tattooed arms and black tattered jeans. He spoke, and my noticing he had rotting teeth distracted me from what it is he was saying. “I haven’t eaten for days,” he said. “Do you have any food?” he asked. “I’ve been out of jail for two weeks now and I have nothing.” I hesitated to respond and then said to Jesus, “just wait there, I‘ll go and see if there’s anything in the pantry.” I took a plastic bag and filled it with food that would last him about a week. I made sure to include a bottle of water so that I wouldn’t have to invite him in. This welcome (or unwelcome) was a huge contrast to what I had imagined. I believed I would fall at Jesus’ feet and praise him. Truth is, I couldn’t wait to get him out of my way so I could return to my sermon preparation. Jesus thanked me and went on his way. He only made it as far as my “welcome” mat outside the front door. I thought about it once Jesus left that day. I wished he would come back so I could welcome him better. (Matt. 25:35)
Has Jesus come to your door? He or she probably has. However, we walk past him when he is begging for money. We draw the curtains when he comes knocking. We act poor when she asks for money. You see, what we must remember is that “not everyone who calls me ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but those who do what my Father wants them to do.” It’s not in our saying, it’s in our doing. (Matt. 7:21)
Unless we see Jesus Christ in others, bypassing all discrimination that may distract us, we will never love – we will never “do” what the Father wills: to love one another in our actions.
Rev. Gary Mauga
Talofa lava and greetings in Jesus’ name.
Last week, we heard the story of the “Lost Son” (Luke 15:11-24). The familiar story is about a father and his two sons and the day his youngest son demanded to have his share of the property – an entitlement that was due to the two brothers at a later time. It is not long before the young son leaves home with his share, sells his share, and uses the money on wasteful living. Meanwhile, at home, a father anguishes over his youngest son hoping one day he would return. After “coming to his senses” the young son, left with nothing but a prayer, returns from the wilderness with a heart full of repentance and regret. Overjoyed, his father greets him with a welcoming party fit for a king! The oldest son is not impressed. He had been home all along serving and working for his father but there was no party for him. He was bitter and angry and refused to join the homecoming celebrations. His father begged him to come in, but he refused.
There were 3 lost sons – not just one. The youngest son had been drawn to the freedom of independence but quickly lost his way – and lost everything. His brother had failed to recognize what was important here – it wasn’t about who was found – it was finding what was once lost (Luke 15:1-7). The father too, was lost in many a sense, one being, that he had failed to celebrate the faithfulness and obedience of his older son.
Many of us see ourselves in this story. Some of us have lost our way in life and need to come to our senses to get back on track – one that leads to God’s unconditional providence and love. For many, sibling rivalry and competition has been the cause of lost relationships throughout generations. For our parents, favouritism for one child is neglect for another. Neglect can potentially lead to rebellion, introversion, and even suicide.
It’s a great relief to know that when we are lost, in whatever sense, Jesus comes looking for us (Lk. 15:4). We just need to place ourselves where we can be found.
Rev. Gary Mauga
Rev. Gary Mauga
Thoughts and comments by our minister, Gary.
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Rev. Gary Mauga