By: Scott Taylor
Two people got up on Sunday morning and both found their way to First Methodist Church of Waynesville. It was about 10:00 AM.
The first one had attended this church her whole life – more than that, her ancestors attended the church too. She was a sixth generation Haywood county born and bred Methodist. There’s probably a window with her name on it somewhere.
The second one was not that. He’d been to FUMC before, but his life had been less predictable and less celebrated. He knew he was broken and he came to church just looking for a little wholeness – maybe a cup of coffee with a stranger or a quiet prayer with a God he was not too sure was even there.
The first one was busy from the moment she walked through the doors. It was her day to teach Sunday School and she was providing some sweets and coffee for her class. She loved her Sunday School class. They were mostly her best friends. She was a bit anxious because the early worship service went too long which delayed her Sunday School class getting started and had the potential to derail her whole plan for the morning.
The second one didn’t go to Sunday School. He’d been before, but didn’t seem to fit in – and fitting in seemed to be an important thing. So, he went into the sanctuary and sat there by himself. He looked at the people milling about getting things ready for service. There was an acolyte practicing his steps. The organist noodled around on a few hymns.
Pretty soon, people started filling the pews for the worship service. The choir filed in and sang their introit. The organist played a bit. The pastor gave a greeting and red pads were passed down the aisle. The first one signed in. The second one didn’t.
The pastor preached. The choir sang. The ushers passed the plates. Time seemed to stand still. All of a sudden, the congregation was standing together and reading aloud words in preparation for the sacrament of holy communion. The first and second one joined their voices with the crowd: merciful God, we have sinned against you in thought, word and deed, by what we have done and by what we have left undone… The first one was glancing at the second one wondering why he was crying. Before she knew how to respond, the pastor invited everyone to share God’s peace.
Typically, when this time in worship comes, the first one gives hugs to everyone around her. Again, many of them are very close friends. She may even make a comment about the hymn selections for the day or the appropriateness of the children’s sermon. But today was different. Seeing his tears, she suddenly felt her own tears swelling in her eyes.
She walked over to the second one and asked if he was okay. He politely obliged that he was “fine.” She then said something that she had never said to anyone before.
“The peace of the Lord be with you.”
The formality felt strained and strange and she immediately regretted saying it.
The second one responded back. “The peace of the Lord be with you too.”
Tears slowly filled their eyes.
The first one realized that in spite of her veneer, she too needed the peace that passes understanding. The second one found what he had been looking for, another broken soul in need of a little wholeness.
A few moments later, they walked down the aisle to the altar and ate some bread and drank some wine. Along the way, they became the body of Christ.