Every Sunday, after our time of worship, we hang out on the lawn to drink our coffee, meet new people, and hang out with friends. We call it “Linger Longer.” It’s become quite a tradition – so much of a tradition that I think I can say it’s almost as important a part of our worship together on Sunday mornings as the preaching and the singing. Yesterday we were all lingering longer, when suddenly everyone looked over and there was a giant geyser of watering spewing into the sky right near the church building. Apparently one of our kids had accidentally stepped on a very exposed piece of irrigation pipe. Snap went the pipe, whoosh went the water. It was actually quite spectacular! Adults came running to see if kids were safe, and to see what we could do to stop the gusher. Kids of course came running, because it was amazing to watch water flow everywhere. Far, far more interesting than my sermon. I’m sure some of those kids will have memories of their “favorite day at church” when there was this giant fountain spurting everywhere! It was complete chaos for a while.
Then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw the little guy who had accidentally stepped on the pipe. He was holding the fence, looking down, ready to cry at any moment. At that moment I knew I needed to release my responsibility to get the geyser shut off to other capable men around me, and I needed to go talk with this very cool little boy. I walked over and I said, “You need to know that we all love you and nobody is blaming you for this! Do you understand me?” He meekly shook his head. I went on, “It’s really important that you walk away telling yourself the right story. The wrong story is that you blew it. The right story is that this entire church loves you, I love you, and you happened to make a mistake anyone could have made. We will fix that fountain but you need to know you are more important than the geyser.” At that I got on my knees, I looked him in the eye and said, “I want to give you a hug.” We hugged, and I hope he heard and remembers what I said. I also hope that he heard it when one of the guys in our ministry, Dom Orlando, told him He also loved him and not to worry about what happened. Oh, and Dom was the guy, along with Ken Anderson, who worked really hard, got very dirty, and very pummeled by hail, in order to shut off the flow of water. It was a reminder to me once again, that ministry is all about building people.