Illustration results for church small groups
JACKIE ROBINSON was the first African American to play baseball in the major leagues. Breaking baseball’s color barrier, he faced hostile crowds in every stadium. While playing one day in his home stadium of Ebbets Field in Brooklyn, he committed an error. The fans began to jeer him. He stood at second base, humiliated, while the crowd booed. Then, without saying a word, shortstop Pee Wee Reese went over and stood next to Jackie. He put his arm around him and faced the crowd. Suddenly the fans grew quiet. Robinson later said that that arm around his shoulder saved his career.
In the fall of the year, Linda, a young woman, was traveling alone up the rutted and rugged highway from Alberta to the Yukon. Linda didn’t know you don’t travel to Whitehorse alone in a rundown Honda Civic, so she set off where only four-wheel drives normally venture. The first evening she found a room in the mountains near a summit and asked for a 5 A.M. wakeup call so she could get an early start. She couldn’t understand why the clerk looked surprised at that request, but as she awoke to early-morning fog shrouding the mountain tops, she understood.
Not wanting to look foolish, she got up and went to breakfast. Two truckers invited Linda to join them, and since the place was so small, she felt obliged. “Where are you headed?” one of the truckers asked.
“In that little Civic? No way! This pass is DANGEROUS in weather like this.”
“Well, I’m determined to try,” was Linda’s gutsy, if not very informed, response.
“Then I guess we’re just going to have to hug you,” the trucker suggested.
Linda drew back. “There’s no way I’m going to let you touch me!”
“Not like THAT!” the truckers chuckled. “We’ll put one truck in front of you and one in the rear. In that way, we’ll get you through the mountains.”
All that foggy morning Linda followed the two red dots in front of her and had the reassurance of a big escort behind as they made their way safely through the mountains.
Caught in the fog in our dangerous passage through life, we need to be “hugged.” With fellow Christians who know the way and can lead safely ahead of us, and with others behind, gently encouraging us along, we, too, can pass safely. - Don Graham
We must be wary of defining friendship with God in terms of our relationships with one another. Friendship is a divine idea, and it must, therefore, define for us the meaning of companionship and camaraderie.
Randy Frazee has written a book called "The Connecting Church." He has a son who was born without a left hand. One day in Sunday School the teacher was talking with the children about the church. To illustrate her point she folded her hands together and said, “Here’s the church, here’s the steeple; open the doors and see all the people.”
She asked the class to do it along with her – obviously not thinking about his son’s inability to pull this exercise off. Then it dawned on her that the boy wouldn’t be able to join in.
Before she could do anything about it, the little boy next to his son, a friend of his from the time they were babies, reached out his left hand and said, “Let’s do it together.” The two b...
Sermon Central Staff
TRESPASSES AND DEBTS
The story is told of two congregations that were located only a few blocks from each other in a small community. They thought it might be better if they would merge and become one united, larger, and more effective body rather than two struggling churches. Good idea ... but they were not able to pull it off. The problem? They could not agree on how they would recite "The Lord's Prayer." One group preferred "forgive us our trespasses," while the other group demanded "forgive us our debts."
So, as the local newspaper reported, "One church went back to its trespasses while the other returned to its debts."
(From a sermon by Bob Joyce, It's About the Kingdom, 8/4/2011)
A 200-year-old church was being readied for an anniversary celebration when calamity struck: the bell ringer was called out of town.
The priest immediately advertised for another.
When the replacement arrived, the priest took him to the steps leading to the bell tower, some 150 feet above them. Round and round they went, huffing and puffing all the way. Just as they reached the landing, the bell ringer tripped and fell face-first into the biggest bell of all. Bo-o-o-o-ong!
Dazed by the blow, the bell ringer stumbled backward onto the landing. The railing broke loose and he fell to the ground. Miraculously, he was unhurt—only stunned—but the sexton thought it best to call an ambulance.
“Do you know this man’s name?” asked the doctor when he arrived.
“No,” the Priest replied, “but his face sure rings a bell.”
One of the most touching moment in the Sydney Olympics was when Eric "The Swimmer" Moussambani of Equatorial Guinea swam in the 100-meter free style qualifying heat. The 22-year-old African had only learned to swim last January, had only practiced in a 20-meter pool without lane markers, and had never raced more than 50 meters. By special invitation of the International Olympic Committee, under a special program that permits poorer countries to participate even though their athletes don’t meet customary standards, he had been entered in the 100-meter men’s freestyle.
When the other two swimmers in his heat were disqualified because of false starts, Moussambani was forced to swim alone. Eric Moussambani was, to use the words of an Associated Press story about his race, "charmingly inept." He never put his head under the water’s surface and flailed wildly to stay afloat. With ten meters left to the wall, he virtually came to a stop. Some spectators thought he might drown! Even though his time was over a minute slower than what qualified for the next level of competition, the capacity crowd at the Olympic Aquatic Center stood to their feet and cheered the swimmer on. After what seemed like an eternity, the African reached the wall and hung on for dear life. When he had caught his breath and regained his composure, the French-speaking Moussambani said through an interpreter, "I want to send hugs and kisses to the crowd. It was their cheering that kept me going."
As Christians, we have a cheering section encouraging us on when we are tired and calling out to us to do better when we are feeling at our best. The author of Hebrews says, “We are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses.” What in the world does he mean—great cloud of witnesses? The author of Hebrews is telling us that we are a part of something much richer and deeper than we know. As children of God and as brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ, we are a part of a family.
STAYING WARM TOGETHER
In what the news called "The Miracle at Quecreek," nine miners trapped for three days 240 feet underground in a water-filled mine shaft "decided early on they were either going to live or die as a group."
The 55 degree (Fahrenheit) water threatened to kill them slowly by hypothermia, so according to one news report "When one would get cold, the other eight would huddle around the person and warm that person, and when another person got cold, the favor was returned."
"Everybody had strong moments," miner Harry B. Mayhugh told reporters after being released from Somerset Hospital in Somerset. "But any certain time maybe one guy got down, and then the rest pulled together. And then that guy would get back up, and maybe someone else would feel a little weaker, but it was a team effort. That’s the only way it could have been."
They faced incredibly hostile conditions together—an...
In South Dakota the community of Spencer was devastated by a tornado. Among the
many losses, including six victims, was St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church. The day after the
tornado a group from the church walked with their pastor through the remaining rubble of
that community. It was an unbelievable sight. There was a grain elevator twisted and
fallen, a water tower toppled, vehicles and other heavy items strewn around like toys.
Whole buildings just gone from their foundations. When they neared the site of the church
someone called out "there’s the statue, there’s Jesus!" Sure enough, there it was the
traditional white statue of Jesus, that stands at the altar of many small churches with arms
outstretched and loving demeanor. There it, or He was, a beacon to all that was left of a
100-year old Lutheran church. The white paint on the statue was nearly gone and the arms
were cracked. But one observer that day said,
“I didn’t notice the damage, it was just so remarkable,
so moving and so fitting to look up from the chaos around us
and see Jesus, arms outstretched, welcoming,
and loving his people.”
What that group of church members were to learn only later was how two young girls,
helping to clean up for a family member in a nearby home, had taken time to come over to
where the church had been to set aside a few items of church property they found
scattered in the area. When they saw the statue lying in the rubble they figured everyone in Spencer needed to know that Jesus was still there, so they stood him up for all to see.
Author and teacher, Dr. Howard Hendricks tells the story of a young man who strayed from the Lord but was finally brought back by the help of a friend who really loved him. When there was full repentance and restoration, Dr. Hendricks asked this Christian how it felt away from the Lord. The young man said it seemed like he was out at sea, in deep water, deep trouble, and all his friends were on the shore hurling biblical accusations at him about justice, penalty, and wrong.
“But, there was one Christian brother who actually swam out to get me and would not let me go. I fought him, but he pushed aside my fighting, grasped me, put a life jacket around me, and took me to shore. By the grace of God, he was the reason I was restored. He would not let me go.”