I found I just don’t know how to do Sundays without church. Saturday had been a long day. A happy one. With family. Celebrating the wonderful years of our eldest daughter’s self-giving life.
She had driven Molly and me to Big Sandy Lake on Monday for coffee with our son. Then a boat ride around the lake. With lunch after. Then the road again, and the long drive back.
You’d think that would be enough. But by early morning, she was heading to the airport to fly to Washington to see her younger brother and to pick up the grandmother’s car to drive it back to Minnesota for her son – three days on the road. Just in time for her wonderful birthday next day.
She was up for it all. The talk. The cook-out supper. The two-part Scrabble game, which she won. After which we old folks headed home for bed.
And then Sunday. We decided to watch on TV, the service led by Joel Osteen. Always a huge encouragement. Church for us wasn’t open and visiting downtown seemed too much.
Then began the longest day. Oh my. On slow time, one thing after another. Downing pills. The nebulizing. Then Sunday lunch - eggs and toast and a bratwurst.
A dozing time watching the Vikings game. Even they could not escape the languor of the day. I finally found my bed for a nap – shivering to get warm.
Finally, when we both were up, Molly’s phone rang. I heard her gales of laughter. I thought it was one of our daughters on the line.
Not so! One of our friends called to report a high-tech surprise that had her in roars of laughter as she told the story to Molly. Looking for a church service as we had done, she went online, and just for fun, typed in “Arthur Rouner.” Suddenly she was whisked to the Congregational Church of Center Ossipee, New Hampshire, and a summer church series of eight years ago. There was Molly, telling the congregation about Pilgrim Center healing work in Africa. Followed by Arthur, preaching a full-length sermon of the day! “Just like the old days,” our friend calling from Woodbury said. Arthur and Molly doing church, in far away New Hampshire, with a Jesus word for today, and one of her “thousand stories” from Africa being told by her friend Molly.
Totally unexpected. A miracle of the internet. But a message for today. She couldn’t help but call us up. Both women were overcome by the coincidence, the surprise from God that changed our friend’s day, and our day.
God was at work in an unexpected way. And then we were all in church again, but 1,000 miles away.
It turned this Sabbath Day into a day of Christian friendship. Of reminding us that the Gospel lives on. And something deep for us was being shared not only with our friend from Woodbury, but perhaps with others – who knows where? – who perhaps also inadvertently tuned into church with the Congregationalists of Center Ossipee.
A day which had seemed lost turned into a high day of remembrance, and reflection. Praise God!
So, I go to my bed with a new sense of wonder, and a renewed joy at what God can give, on His high and holy day – across the years, and across the miles.
Arthur A Rouner, Jr -
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ARTHUR ROUNER MINISTRIES