CROSSVILLE, Tenn. (BNC) by Tim Hester — Sunday morning July 12th was one of those mornings many preachers cherish, time to present a lesson that I had put in many hours of thought, study, and prayer. I just knew down in my heart that “Give Me That Old Time Religion” was going to be a good sermon.
It was going to be a lengthy lesson, six points total. After I had been in the pulpit for several minutes, and was only getting down to my third point, I realized this was going to be a two-part sermon. After the third point I told the audience that we would continue the lesson that evening and proceeded to extend the invitation.
Immediately following the morning service my family and I traveled out of town, with one of our elders and his wife, to attend a funeral. While we were at the funeral, the elder and I realized that we might not make it back in time for the evening service. We called to inform another elder of our situation. He told us not to worry, that he would take care of things if we were not there.
Our little group made it back to the church building just as the song before the lesson was being sung. We entered the auditorium just in time to hear this elder present a wonderful lesson on the Bible’s use of mathematical equations. At the close of the service, I announced to the congregation that we would continue with the previously announced sermon, “Give Me That Old Time Religion” on the following Sunday morning.
When the next Sunday morning arrived, I, along with a few others, was excited to finish this long-awaited sermon. Once again I mounted the pulpit and began my introduction. Just as I was nearing the end of my introductory remarks, with a quick recap of the previous week’s lesson, a loud noise and a cry of pain were heard from the area of our classrooms.
One of our older members had gotten up to go to the restroom and had fallen. We paused the service for this lady’s daughters and several members to check on her. Due to a cut on her arm and fear of other injuries, an ambulance was called. This dear sister was moved outside where the medics from our local fire department and ambulance service tended to her.
At this point, with our elders outside with the lady and her family, I attempted to restore order and to return our minds to worshiping God. I asked two of our song leaders to lead us in a few songs. After a couple of songs our elders returned to the auditorium and signaled that everything was clear.
I once again took to the pulpit realizing that, due to the passage of so much time and all of our minds being on what had happened, “Give Me That Old Time Religion” once again would have to wait. So I led us in a prayer for the sister who fell, said a few words, and announced that I would preach the long-awaited sermon that night.
Fortunately, I was finally able to complete the sermon that night without a hitch.
On Monday morning after the preaching of the second half of this sermon, one of the elders came into my office. As he and I discussed the events of the day before, he told me that I need to change the title of my sermon from “Give Me That Old Time Religion” to “The Sermon That Liked To Have Never Been Preached.”
Without knowing it, he gave me a sermon idea I have been rolling over in my mind ever since.
Tim and his family live outside of Crossville, Tenn., where they work with the West Avenue congregation.
Randal and his wife Vicki have lived and worked in Brazil since Nov. 1984. They have three children, two daughters-in-law, and five grandchildren. He likes to read novels in his back-porch hammock. http://randal.us