The Beautiful Simplicity Of The Local Church
by Josh Hughes
What if I told you that the actions of a single tiny squirrel could change the lives of thousands of people?
OK, so I’m making it sound way more dramatic than it actually was, but indulge me for a moment as I spin the epic tale of a recent 9:00 am service at Killearn.
At about 8:55 we were making our final preparations. Those blessed souls who get to church on time (let the reader understand) were filing into their seats, the walk-in music was playing, announcements were scrolling on the screens - when suddenly everything went dark. The entire neighborhood power grid was fried.
Immediate action was taken - the troops were mobilized to bring chairs out into the lobby and a couple hundred of us formed a semicircle by the front windows. It was there we sang without amplification, and Dave preached a great sermon through a dinky little battery-powered speaker that only sort of worked. It was first century worship in 2016, and honestly, it was awesome.
Power was restored a little after 10:00, and we were able to have second service as planned.
My sources embedded deep inside the power structures of the utilities department - oh yes, I have people everywhere! - tell me the guilty party who caused this incident was a squirrel. Yep. A squirrel. Apparently this is pretty common. This particular squirrel decided it would be a good idea to bite through the insulation of a power line near us, knocking out power to over 2,000 customers in Northeast Tallahassee for over an hour. I assume the offending squirrel met his untimely demise as a result of his actions, but my sources were unable to confirm this.
I found myself reflecting on the significance of what happened on Sunday every day that week. I'm a pastor, so I'm always looking for ways in which big truths are being illustrated in mundane things. In this case, there are a few lessons we could draw - we could learn about the great influencing potential of small things, juxtaposing the slight stature of the squirrel with the mighty power of the grid he took down. We could harken unto the warning of the danger that awaits a small, feeble creature who messes with things more powerful than he.
But for me, the biggest lesson I'm taking away is the reminder of how beautifully simple the gathered church is at its heart. We said it on Sunday morning because it's true - the only essential ingredients for church to happen are the people of God, the word of God, and the Spirit of God. And we had those in abundance on Sunday at 9:00 am, even if we lacked power, projection, amplification, recording, and a myriad of other things we think of as important.
I was reminded again, as I am frequently, that the church is the dearest place on earth, and not because of her programs or her musicians or her well-executed production. It's because Jesus is present there among his people. Every time. What a gift.
I don't know about you, but I cannot wait for next Sunday. Regardless of whether or not we will have electricity, we will have power.