I preached in Higgins Lake at my little brother’s church yesterday morning. The evening service cancelled because of heavy snow and I spent all day driving back home. (The life of an itinerant preacher is not always all that romantic). Here is what I said when I got in my little brother’s pulpit for the first time:
“Your pastor is seven years younger than I. I was there when he came home from the hospital. At the time we lived in a little bungalow on Francis Street in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I expected someone I could play football with and when I got home I was very disappointed to find a little tiny baby only a little bigger than a football himself. He would not even open his eyes and stop crying long enough to greet me. He was all read and wrinkly. You may not think he is much to look at now but you would not believe the improvement he has made since those first few frightening days.
Fortunately things got better as time went by. I helped him learn to ride a bike. I helped him learn to throw and catch a baseball and a football. I shared my tree houses with him. I was his model for youthful romance, which he wisely rejected.
I did some interesting things to your pastor when we were young. Once I told him that if he kept a rock in his mouth long enough it would turn to bubble gum. Once I took him with me to a Cincinnatti Red’s baseball game and bought him some peanuts. He enjoyed them. I was preoccupied with the game and didn’t notice that he was eating them in the shell. He had never had them before. On one particularly dark episode I conned him into drinking dirty dishwater which we found out later was mostly bleach. I almost lost my big brother license over that one.
Don’t ever tell me the grace of God does not work in a person’s life to help them forgive…. If it were not for God’s grace your pastor would never speak to me again let alone invite me to do pulpit supply. It is the grace of God and the work of God in us and maybe only that that motivates us to reconcile.”