Vol. 3, No. 6
We are very fortunate to have many young families and even more young children present in our worship services. While I would not trade that situation for anything, I will say that it can become very difficult to preach at times. In a two-year period, we had nearly 30 babies born. Add these babies with the already abundant children, and it can get rather noisy at times. On more occasions than I can count, the children have won and I have lost when it comes to gaining and keeping the attention of the assembly.
I remember one Sunday morning when a particularly rowdy little girl gained the attention of nearly the entire assembly, even the preacher! This little girl was responsible for many of my sermons falling on deaf, or should I say, distracted ears due to her escapades. To put it mildly, she was out of control. As was her family's habit, she was sitting on the second pew, front and center when she decided to play with a large metal slinky. And play with it she did! All through the worship service.
While one end of the slinky was being held at one far end of the pew, she walked, holding the other end to the far end of the pew. When I saw this, I knew it was only a matter of moments until the slinky would either break, or she would let go and the slinky would go sailing to the other end. I also noticed that the entire balcony, and half the downstairs assembly, were engrossed in what this little girl might do next. (I think some, though none would admit it, were hoping she'd let go).
Well, as it turned out, the slinky didn't break and nobody let go. But after services finished, an angry worshiper approach me at the door and said in a sharp voice, "Something must be done with that little girl that sits up front! She is totally out of control. People cannot even worship because of her antics. Did you see her with the slinky this morning? Why, where in the world is her mother when she had that slinky stretched all the way across the pew like that?" I informed her, "She was the one holding the other end." Exasperated, and with a huff, she left the building.
The next Sunday, I noticed this lady who was so angry the week before did not sit in her usual seat. Instead, she moved to the second pew, front and center where this little girl and her family sit. I assumed from her choice of seats, she was going to take matters in her own hands, and since her parents wouldn't discipline her, she would see to it herself.
About ten minutes into my sermon that morning, this little girl caught my attention. Somehow, and from somewhere, she had taken possession of a knife. I'm not talking about a little penknife. I'm talking about a hunting knife that folds down, with about a five-inch blade. As she sat there handling this knife, she became too fidgety for the lady next to her to endure. Finally, the lady looked and began to reach in the direction of the little girl to, I suppose, correct her, when she caught sight of the knife. At the precise moment when this lady saw this little girl with the knife, the little girl was holding the knife up in front of her face, sliding the blade between her thumb and forefinger as though she was cleaning off the blood from a fresh kill.
I'll never forget the sheer look of terror on this lady's face. Her mouth dropped, her eyes widened, her hand quickly recoiled and she scooted away from her in her seat as far as she possibly could. It took every ounce of strength and self-control I had to keep from laughing out loud at that moment. Not only was it a momentary bout with self-control, but it had to be sustained throughout the remainder of the service, for this lady sat with a look of terror on her face, never for a moment taking her eyes off this little girl until the close of the service.
The next Sunday, I chuckled within myself as I saw that this lady had returned to her normal seat, evidently having given up on the idea of setting this little girl straight.
[Editor's Note: Preachers are invited to submit amusing incidents that have occurred over the years during their ministries for possible inclusion in the pages of Gospel Gazette Online. Someday, these stories may also be converted to book format.]
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