Summary: The Great Commission playing out in every day life.

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Anchorage Presbyterian Church

R. Joseph Owles

August 16, 1998

[Based on Matthew 28:16-20]

All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me; therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age (Mt. 28:18-20).

His name was John, his hair was wild, he wore a tie-dye T-shirt with holes in it, ragged jeans, and he went about barefoot. This was literally his wardrobe for his entire four years at college. He was brilliant, a little esoteric and abstract, but very bright. He attended college on a campus that had a well-dressed, very conservative, proper church located across the street. The church had long wanted to develop some kind of ministry to the students of that campus, but they simply were uncertain as to how to go about it.

One Sunday, John decided to go to this church. He walked in with no shoes, dressed in jeans, and his tie-dye T-shirt, and his long, wild hair. He was a few minutes late and the service had already begun, so he started down the aisle in search of a seat. The people of the church began to look a bit uncomfortable, but no one said anything. The spaces in the pews seems to get tighter and tighter as he drew near, so John kept moving down the aisle, looking for a seat, getting dangerously closer-and-closer to the pulpit. When he saw that there were no seats, he simply squatted down right on the carpet, in front of the sanctuary, which was perfectly acceptable behavior to John’s college-world-view. However, it did not seem to be perfectly acceptable behavior to many people located in the sanctuary that Sunday morning. Nothing like this had ever happened before, and although nobody said anything about it, the air was thick with tension.

Now, about this time, the pastor of the church, still in his pulpit, who had observed John’s trek down the aisle and the church’s growing tension, noticed that from the very back of the church, a respected member and elder was slowly making his way to the front of the church, toward John. The elder was in his eighties, a very dignified man with neatly trimmed silver-grey hair, an expensive three-piece suit, complete with pocket watch. He was well known in this congregation as a “godly man.” This “godly,” dignified, well-groom, elder courtly walked down the aisle with his cane, toward John, toward this young antithesis of everything that this elder seemed to be. And as he walked toward John, the people began to mutter softly to themselves, “You can’t blame him for what he’s going to do. How can you expect a man of his age and of his background to understand some college kid on the floor?”

It took an agonizingly long time for the elderly man to reach the young man. The only sound in the church was the clicking of the man’s cane, no one was breathing as the man reached John. All eyes directed toward what was about to happen, everyone knew that even the minister could not do anything until this man did what had to do. And the elderly man, who symbolized all that was dignified and proper, dropped his cane to the floor. And with great difficulty, and with creaking and popping of joints, he lowered himself to the floor, and sat next to John, so that John would not have to worship on the floor alone.

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