Saturday, September 27, 2014


Gothic Archie invited his new friend Tim Brel to go to church with him. Tim responded eagerly, “Sure! Thanks! 'I was glad when they said unto me, let us go into the house of the Lord.' May I invite my friends too? Can we go right now?" 

Assuring Tim that his friends were welcome, Gothic Archie added, "But we have to wait for the appropriate time."

“When's that?"

"Eleven on Sunday morning, of course!" insisted Gothic Archie.

“Why only then? God’s Guidebook says we may come into the House of the Lord day and night to worship. King David wrote, 'Every day will I bless Thee.' He ought to know. He wrote most of The Hymnbook section of The Guidebook. He said, 'I will bless the Lord at all times.' But okay, no sweat. We'll come Sunday then."

The following Lord's Day Tim Brel went to Gothic Archie's home to wait while Archie attired himself in a gray suit, white shirt, conservative tie, and spit-shined black shoes. Giving Tim a disapproving once-over, Archie sniffed, "Are you going to God's House looking like that?"

"My Levis are clean, and my tee-shirt doesn't have ring around the collar," Tim defended. Gothic Archie tried to overlook what he considered Tim's totally unsuitable clothes because, after all, Tim was his new friend.

As they approached the church, Tim Brel did a double take at the lofty steeple and magnificent stained glass windows. "Well, okay, I suppose we can worship in that building as well as anywhere else. But it's only a church after God's people get inside."

"Who says so?" challenged Gothic Archie, astonished at such a disrespectful appraisal of the historic stone edifice that was First Church on Maple Avenue.

"The Apostle Paul did. He wrote to remind us that the Holy Spirit lives in us now and we are God's temples. And Jesus declared that where two or three of us get together in His name, He's there. He said that the place of worship isn't important, that God is looking for true worshipers to worship Him in spirit and in truth. That can be anywhere and anytime, can't it?"

Archie arched his eyebrows. "You sure have some unorthodox ideas, but I can't fault your sources.” 

Archie's leather shoes squeaked up the broad stone steps leading into the church. By contrast, Tim's Nike Air Zoom Pegasus running shoes with the psychedelic yellow shoe strings padded quietly along like Indian moccasins. They entered the plush-carpeted vestibule. Archie was about to point out the polished solid oak pews with padded seats and the majestic organ when Tim shouted joyfully, "Glory to God! Hallelujah!"

Archie nudged him in the ribs. "Shh! Don't embarrass me! We should be quiet in the House of the Lord."

"Quote your source," challenged Tim.

"'Be still and know that I am God' and 'My soul waits in silence for God only,'" recited Archie, pleased to have the precise Scriptures on the tip of his tongue.

"Well, I think that's supposed to be our soul's posture before Almighty God. He's totally awesome. It doesn't necessarily mean our way of worship. But I won't argue." Tim Brel stood silently, meditating on God's majesty, trying not to offend Gothic Archie with his own liberty. He lifted his hands spontaneously to the Lord in praise.

Another elbow jab. "What are you doing? It's not our custom to stand around in church with our hands in the air. You look like someone just poked a gun in your ribs! We're supposed to sit down like everyone else. There's my friend, Paddy Pew, the one in the pin-stripped suit and a carnation in his lapel. He'll usher us to our seats and give us a printed program so we'll know the order of the service."

"Archie, I respect the way you want to worship, but The Guidebook gives us lots of different ways to express our worship to Almighty God."

"Like what?" Archie looked bewildered.

"Jesus said, 'When you stand praying...' and then there's bowing down, lifting our eyes and hands unto the Lord, kneeling, and clapping and joyfully shouting. Jesus even fell on His face in the garden to pray like they did in those days, even in public worship. I can't think of any verses about sitting.... Christians used to stand all during worship in the early centuries. And in the Scripture it is written that people danced before the Lord too...."

"Oh! You wouldn't dare!" Archie turned pale. "You would scandalize our parishioners!"

"Don't worry, friend. 'So then let us pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another,'" he quoted from The Guidebook to reassure him. 

Archie looked relieved to see his Maple Avenue First Church friends coming in. "There are the Organ sisters Harriet Hammond and Cathy Drel. Sometimes Gloriah Steinway joins them for choir numbers," said Archie proudly.

"Some of my friends are arriving too. There are the Cymbal twins, Loud and Resounding, and Terry Trumpet and Harold Horn! Tammie Bourine is here with Danny Drum. I was sure they would show up!" exclaimed Tim waving a greeting.

"There's my friend Heidi Harper," said Archie pointing to three young people just arriving. "She's with her boyfriend Larry Lyre. He's an outstanding musician but people keep urging him to change his name because he's really very honest.”

"Look who's with them—it's Guido Guitar. Is he your friend? What a surprise! He's my friend, too" exclaimed Tim.

"I've never met your kind of friends before," Archie shifted uncomfortably. "I had no idea they even came to worship."
"King David welcomed them and they've been members of God's family ever since," maintained Tim.

It was time to sing. Tim joined in with gusto. He clapped his hands in rhythm to praise Almighty God. Archie hunched lower behind a lady with a wide-brimmed hat. He flushed with embarrassment at what he considered Tim's ostentatious behavior. Finally he could stand it no longer. "Tim, you and your friends really seem to lack proper demeanor for worship. You don't even bow your head and close your eyes when you pray. Brother, you just..." Archie's tongue stuck to the roof of his mouth on the word brother.

He cut his intended criticism mid-sentence when he caught sight of Tim's eyes brimming with genuine tears of adoration for God. Tim was truly worshiping the Lord, notwithstanding his boisterous demonstrations. Tim was indeed his brother in the Lord!

Tim met Archie's gaze. He recognized in Archie's eyes unfeigned love for the Lord and sincere worship in spite of what he considered Archie's stuffy, pompous manner and unbending formality. "My brother!" he whispered. "Let's pray together...." 

Differences melted as each recognized the image of Jesus in the other. Gothic Archie closed his eyes and bowed his head. Tim Brel, standing, eyes turned upward and wide open but overflowing with tears of joy, lifted his hands in worship.

Together they prayed: "OUR Father, who art in Heaven, holy be Thy name; Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven..."

Verses for worship relevant to the story above)

Ps. 22:1; Rom. 14:5; Ps. 145:2; 34:1; 1 Cor. 6:19; Matt. 18:20; John 4:21-24; Heb. 10:24, 25; Ps. 29:9; 145:7; 100; 47:1, 6, 7; 62:1,5; 28:2; 143:6; 141:2; 1 Tim. 2:8; Ps.144:9; 33:2,3; 98:5,6; 47:5;
Matt. 26:39; Mark 11:25; Ps. 92:3; 95:1,2,6;
 Eph. 3:14; Rom. 14:11;Ps. 149:3; 150; 33:3; 149:1;
 Rom.14:16,19; Matt. 6:9,10.

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