‘This is the church’

Do you remember that little finger game you learned as a kindergartener in Sunday school? It teaches a very valuable lesson:

The church is not a building.

The church is not a steeple.

The church is not a resting place.

The church is people!

It happened years ago and it was something that those who were there have never forgotten. Vacation Church School had begun on Monday and everything had gone exceptionally well. Everyone was enjoying the study and activities to the fullest.

On Wednesday morning at 10:30 the director brought a new student into the primary department. “Boys and girls,” she said, “This is Davy.” Looking up, they all saw it—the sleeve of his shirt was pinned up. His left arm was missing.

The teacher gave him a warm welcoming smile. “Come in, Davy,” she said, “We’re so glad you’re here.” As she found him a seat, all the children watching, suddenly a deep fear swept over her—a fear that some member of the class might say something about his handicap that would hurt his feelings and embarrass him.

If she had only known he was coming and could have warned them! But it was too late for that now. She could only hope and pray no one would say anything. Then as the morning progressed she began to feel a little easier. So far, so good, it looked like everything was going to be all right.

Almost before she knew it class time was drawing to a close. Looking at her watch, she breathed a sigh of relief. “Children,” she said, “put up your things; it is time for our closing. Now, is everyone ready? Good, let’s make our churches.”

The hands of the children went up as she continued to lead them, “All together, ‘This is the church, this is the steeple—’”. Her voice trailed off, and then stopped as stark terror gripped her.

She had done the very thing she had feared the children would do! And there was no way she could go back and undo it. She just stood there not knowing what to do or what to say. And then it happened.

The little girl sitting next to him reached across with her left hand and put it against his right hand and said, “Davy, let’s build our church together!” Rev. Nichols is Minister Emeritus of First Christian Church, Temple, where he was senior minister for 23 years. He writes a religious column for several newspapers.

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2013-08-15 digital edition

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