Mr. Oppenheim had only meant to let in a little fresh air. He was the usher and in charge of that sort of thing. He never imagined he would let it in, too.
Mrs. Ophelia Geoffrey almost trampled it. She reserved a pew far enough back that her sons and daughters-in-law could sneak in late without disturbing. They always whispered to her apologetically, “Overslept, Ma. We’ll do better next week.”
It crawled silently past her pew.
Fifteen minutes later, a crowd of people were settling in. Clutching his black Bible in his hand, the Pastor stepped up to the podium. Everyone wondered at his slight pause on the steps.
He had seen it.
The congregation rose. Somber voices mumbled words of praise. A couple men yawned in anticipation of their morning nap.
The pastor had a slight upturn to his lips.
Little ones filed to the front and gathered around the pastor’s wife for the children’s sermon.
Then, ten-year-old Billy Reeves saw it.
He pointed it out to nine-year-old James Forgers.
James’ jaw dropped as he gasped loudly. Elizabeth Patrick noticed James’ distress and peeked past him to see what could cause the normally fidgety boy to become as still as a statue.
She saw it.
And she screamed.
All the children looked to Maria. They all looked down at it. Screams bounced off the rafters. Chaotic dancing around the scurrying spider ensued. Billy stood calmly and laughed.
If they had looked, the congregation would have seen that the Pastor’s eyes were sparkling. But all eyes were trained on the children. Mothers and fathers stood and shouted in vain. Children were squealing so loudly that they couldn’t hear.
The pastor’s wife coaxed it aboard her handkerchief. Mr. Oppenheim opened the door for her and she deposited the traumatized spider outside.
The children stopped screaming and their parents stopped yelling. Even Billy Reeves quieted down.
But Pastor had tears pouring from his eyes and guffaws spewing from his mouth.
The congregation was silent. They glanced at Pastor’s wife, but she was smiling at her husband. Discerning she wouldn’t be much help, everyone turned to their neighbor and whispered.
Half the congregation decided that he ought to be admitted to the psychiatric hospital. The other half was discussing his being arrested for having planned the uproarious event (that constituted disturbing the peace, didn’t it?) when he finally wiped his eyes and took a deep breath.
“Brothers and sisters, you have to admit that was funny.”
He sighed. “I think God sent a miracle this morning. I’ve been praying for a long time that my sermons would cause that kind of a stir. Not exactly the way I would have done it, but God works in mysterious ways. This morning, none of you fell asleep and no one started whispering about where to go to lunch afterwards.”
Several people glanced at each other with sheepish expressions. Everyone began to sit down, eyes riveted on the Pastor.
“Don’t you know church isn’t just an opportunity to see our friends or catch up on the latest gossip? Church isn’t just an event we get dressed up for once a week.”
Mrs. Geoffrey’s children cocked their heads.
“It is so much more than that. We shouldn’t come to church out of habit. We should come because we want to learn, because we want to sing praises to our God out of our love for Him, and because we want to fellowship with others. We should come because we want to.”
The Pastor’s wife gave him a reassuring nod.
“I have just one more thing to say.”
Everyone leaned forward.
“If we don’t have a spider come to church next week, will you come, anyway?”
Laughter rippled like an ocean wave all the way to the back pew.
“With the right attitude?”
Hope burgeoned in each heart. Smiles burst onto each face.
Mr. Oppenheim stepped to the front. “I will.”
Mrs. Geoffrey clutched her trembling hands together and said, “Me, too.”
Nods and yes’s came from all the corners of the little church.
The pastor led one last hymn and prayed. On the way out, Mrs. Geoffrey’s sons each whispered in her ear, “We’ll be early, next week, Ma!”
She grinned at each of them, because she knew they would be.Copyright © by Rachelle Rea | 0 comments