Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Fellowship of Suffering

As suffering goes this doesn’t rank very high on the scale. But at the moment it occurred, it was a real crisis. This past Sunday was the Grand Opening of our new Worship Center at our church. What a glorious and exciting day we had. The joy of our people was evident in every way. We were packed in our morning worship services and the spirit of involvement that had marked the building of the building displayed itself in pure excitement.

As a part of the celebration we planned a Dedication Concert for 5:00 p.m. where our choir and orchestra premiered a new CD entitled “Make His Praise Glorious – Psalm 66:2.” We also honored those who had been involved in the construction of the building. Once again, as in the morning, an hour before the program, folks began to arrive.

Then it happened! About 4:15 one of the young men in the orchestra found me on the new platform and said, “Pastor, we have a leak in the baptistry.” I walked back to the hallway behind the platform and saw water spreading across the hall, under the wall, into the Choir Room. Also, it was creeping under the wall onto the stage under the choir loft. When I went into the area to look under the baptistry, in my amazement, I discovered the pipe fitting below the drain had burst and 750 gallons of water were beginning to pour out in a stream that looked like a fire hose.

What happened next was a great example of the Body Life of the church at work. In amazingly short time there were probably 50 people or more scurrying about like ants to fix the problem. One of our young single adult guys jumped into the baptistry fully clothed, put a bucket over the drain and stood with his foot in the bucket until we found a rock in our new landscaping and brought it in to put in the bucket. Another young married adult squatted down under the baptistry and held the pipe in place during the entire "rescue" operation. His legs began to cramp but he held on.

Speaking of buckets, we formed an old fashioned bucket brigade up out of the baptistry, down the baptistry steps and down the hall all the way outside. Dip and pass, dip and pass. In just a few minutes 3 or 4 wet vacs appeared and folks began to vacuum up the flooded water. Towels, packing blankets, anything that could be used was used.

A call went out to one of our men who owns a carpet cleaning business. He rushed to get his emergency truck with the long suction hose and came with his kids to help. All of this happening on a very hot and unusually muggy (for Southern California) day. We were all drenched with perspiration. In about 30 minutes all the water was out of the baptistry and the floors were vacuumed of excess water with carpet fans blowing to begin the drying process.

At our house we call that “making a memory.” (LOL) And what a memory it is. But the thing that stands out in my mind is what great fellowship everyone was having in the midst of the crisis. God’s church in action. Sure it was only water, but the church responds in the same way to much greater crises. As a pastor I’m so blessed to be surrounded by such gracious and involved saints. That’s a memory I’ll keep with me for a long time. It goes along with the verse that became my focus for all the celebration activities: “They shall eagerly utter the memory of Your abundant goodness And will shout joyfully of Your righteousness.” Psalm 145:7