Summary: When tough times come and we fall to pieces, we will nto survive unless we gather around each other to comfort, support, love, and model Jesus.
Let’s Fall to Pieces Together
January 22, 2006
There is a medium sized city in Indiana which has a Methodist Church in the heart of the downtown area. Members of the church include some of the leaders of the community: Business owners, entrepreneurs, city politicians, doctors, lawyers, and bankers. There is a significant amount of wealth among church members, which really isn’t surprising given the sort of folks that attend. Blue collar workers in the church were fairly rare, but even most of those men and women worked in industries which provided them with fairly high paying jobs.
There was one family that certainly, on the surface, looked out of place. I never quite understood – until much later – why they attended there or why they felt comfortable there. But then I began to watch God move in their lives and the lives of church members. When I saw what God was doing, then I understood.
One day, the mother was arrested for writing bad checks. This had become a habit for her and the local bank had tired of covering her lapses in judgment. The next Sunday, the whole family was back in church, sitting in their regular pew, as if nothing had changed. In fact, there were some things that had indeed not changed.
They were still part of the church family. No one ignored them, or look crossways at them, or snickered behind their backs, or gossiped about them. People in the church, for the most part, acted as if nothing happened.
But some things had changed. Some of the leaders in the church began to look at this family with new eyes. They looked at them and saw, not a family that didn’t belong, but a family in crisis. They saw members of their own church who were down and out. They were not satisfied to leave them there.
Very quietly, a banker and a lawyer began to work with them. They were honest with them about their pattern of lies, mistakes, and sins, but offered to do what they could to help them get back on their feet. They helped mom and dad solve their legal problems, assisted them to be more careful in the budgeting of their expenses, and taught them new skills to manage their lives.
In that process, God took on a real face. Actually, come to think of it, God took on a number of different faces of both men and women who modeled care, compassion, wisdom, and tough love.
Now here’s the rest of the story. Years later, both sons have graduated from college and are embarking on a road to ordained ministry. The daughter has fulfilled her dream of becoming an elementary teacher, and has a husband and babies of her own. Dad still works at the same job where he is a loyal and important employee. Mom has become a lay pastor and shepherds a small rural church. God truly made himself known in that church through the ways that they banded together to help one of their own. In those actions, the church became the church as it is meant to be.
Over the years, and much to my surprise, I have become somewhat of a country music fan. I used to make fun of country music because of all the songs about dogs, pickup trucks, and the women that got away…or maybe it is the women, pickup trucks, and the dogs that got away. But anyway, I surprised myself last Thanksgiving. My sister-in-law asked me what I wanted for Christmas and I told her that I thought I might like to receive an Alan Jackson CD.
I did, in fact, pray for Alan Jackson one day. Not in person, mind you, but with an elderly woman from I church I served. She loved Alan Jackson and had an 8 X 10 autographed picture of him on her coffee table. As I left her house that day, I didn’t feel quite right praying for her and not for Alan.
George Strait has one of those classic country songs about losing his woman and then trying to drown his sorrow in what the Indigo Girls call “a bottle of possibility.” By coincidence, there in the bar he finds a woman who is going through the same thing. She has just been jilted by her lover.
George understands and sings, “Let’s fall to Pieces together. Why should we both fall apart? Let’s fall to pieces together, right here in each other’s arms.” Isn’t that poetic? It really tugs at your heartstrings, doesn’t it?
The more I thought about that, the more I thought that I ought to ask the choir to sing it for the anthem today, but I couldn’t find the sheet music. I thought we ought to sing it, because I think it is perfect pictures of what the church is suppose to be all about.