It was that time in the service when the parson gathered the young folks at the front of the altar for their special time. At the parson’s church it was an eclectic group that gathered. They ranged in age from four to twenty. As the years had passed during the parson’s tenure the “children” had grown to teens and then college students. Yet, still they sat in the place for what used to be called the “Children’s Sermon.”
On this particular Sunday they had all laughed when one of the parson’s object lessons became a lesson in how not to handle that particular object. Still, the slipup provided an entry into the moral of the story. And then the parson asked everyone to bow for prayer.
When the “Amen” was pronounced, the Song Leader stood to announce the hymn. He didn’t get to.
“Excuse me,” called a voice from the vestibule. A woman started walking down the aisle.
It was Miriam Peabody. She was not a member of the parson’s church. The parson doubted she belonged to any particular congregation. But she was active in the community and always championing one cause or the other. Two weeks ago her group had asked the church to be allowed to use a diner the church had at the regional fairgrounds. They’d agreed and the parson provided her a key.
She walked down the aisle, stopping about halfway to greet Henry Stoddard, who seemed a bit perplexed at her presence. She then continued up to the altar, around the altar and up to the parson now standing near the pulpit.
“I figured I’d find you hear this morning, Parson, what with you folks having church and all. I wanted to personally thank you,” she said as she extended her hand, “for letting us use your diner during the Relay for Life. It was a big help having a place for people to have refreshments. We really appreciate it.” She turned to look out over the congregation, waved to them and continued, “Thanks to all of you.” Then she turned back to the parson and said, “Anyway knowing you’d be here I knew this would be a perfect time to return the key.” She handed the parson the key, and said, “Once again, thanks so much.”
The parson and the Song Leader and every person in the sanctuary watched her head back down the aisle, out the door and into the vestibule.
The Song Leader finally regained composure and signaled the musicians to begin. They did. As the intro to the hymn was played, the parson thought to himself: “When I prayed for something to happen that was not printed in the bulletin I should have been more specific.”