Next Sunday we will have a treat. Our Vacation Bible School children will sing the music they learned in Bible School at the 10:30 service. It reminds me of another VBS. Several years ago, I returned to my first churches in Delaware. Magnolia, the largest church on the charge, was having their Vacation Bible School. The person in charge had been a young teenager when I was at Magnolia. Now a mother herself, Melissa Opdyke was running the program for that year’s VBS.
I remember meeting Melissa for the first time. The event was unforgettable. I served three churches that were 27 miles apart. So when I began the Sunday service at the first church, Robey UMC in Leipsis, I dressed in my clerical robe, stole and cross before I left the parsonage. The service started at 9 am. I arrived at 8:30 and immediately left afterward to make my next service at 10 am. I had little time to waste before I had to be on the road, so coming to the service already robed saved precious moments that allowed me to visit with my congregation. Each Sunday, I would travel down the road in full clergy regalia. One particular Sunday, I was driving the rural road to Leispic around 8 am. I came around a curve in the road and faced a good dozen heifers in the highway. They had broken through the fencing in the pasture where they had been grazing. Knowing they could be a dangerous hazard to drivers and an economic loss to the farmer who owned them if they were injured or killed by a vehicle, I pulled over and began trying to get them back out of the road and back into their pasture. Even though I must have been a bizarre sight to the cows, they still did not have the good manners to return to their pasture. I decided I’d better go to the farm house. Can you imagine opening your door to a strange female dressed in clerical robes at 8 am on Sunday morning? The farmer and his wife and girls were all in their pajamas. When I introduced myself they recognized my name and quickly jumped to action when I told them their cows were out on the road. The farmer was very appreciative, and I went on my way to church. The Opdykes and all four girls began attending and later joined Magnolia.
You never know what act of kindness can reach out and make someone welcome to church. In my years of ministry I have had several other encounters with cows but none that led to a whole family joining a congregation! Small things can make a huge difference to a stranger. Now hopefully, I can give up my cow chasing days and find other ways to help folks know that we care about their lives. Each one of us needs to find those opportunities to be kind to our neighbor. We never know what a blessing will come around the bend.