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A Surprising Visit

While we were on vacation, we had the opportunity to visit another church.  It was a very good experience – but also one full of surprises.  Not the least of which was when our son came traipsing onto the platform for special music.  And we didn’t know about it until he walked up there.

 Let’s start at the beginning.  We walked into the church and were quickly greeted by a number of people.  One lady in particular, whose name I don’t know, was very helpful and a model of what great hospitality would look like in any church.  She came up, we made introductions, and she asked if my 6-year-old would prefer Children’s Church. 

 He never likes to go strange places by himself, but he said yes.  That was our first surprise. 

 So, she walked us down the hallway back to his room (I’m telling you, she was really terrific).  In through the door we went.  No elementary kids present, just High School helpers (and there was a flock of them – my son was outnumbered around 8 to 1).  That was our second surprise.

 I asked my son if he still wanted to stay.  Yes, again.  Third surprise.

 Then it got interesting.

 We went into the service, sang a little, sat through announcements.  (Sidebar – in the middle of announcements, the guy in the pulpit said “Anyone a visitor today?  Raise your hand.”  I didn’t.  He asked again if there were any visitors, and requested again that they raise their hands.  I still didn’t.  One of the men sitting on the platform looked right at us, kind of daring me to not raise my hand and simultaneously encouraging me to raise my hand.  I still didn’t.  Finally, the guy looking at me quietly spoke to the guy in the pulpit.  The guy in the pulpit turned around, spotted us, and said, “I see there are visitors in the back.”  So I sheepishly raised my hand.  All the fabulous work by the wonderful, welcoming lady was nearly undone in that moment!!)  Then it was time for special music.

 They announced that the children’s bell choir would be playing.  The children started streaming in from a door at the side of the auditorium, holding the bells against their chests just like good bell choirs do.  And it was a lot of kids!  So I kind of assumed that the reason there were no kids in my sons class is that they were all practicing. 

 And then, in the line of kids streaming in, my wife and I both saw our son.  Holding a bell.  Which he had never, ever done in his life.  Uh, oh.  Fourth surprise.  And not a very good one.  Not only is he going to ruin the children’s bell choir, I had to raise my hand earlier – so everyone will know that it was my kid who screwed it up. 

 Then my son got his own surprise.  As he rambled up to the platform, he turned around and saw his grandfather sitting there.  Grandpa was preaching that day.  So in the middle of getting the kids up there, my son turned around, saw grandpa, and they had a short conversation right there on the platform in front of 250 people.  Anyway, I digress.

 They began to play the bells, and I was terribly nervous.  My son had never played until that moment.  (In fact, I asked him afterwards:  Did you practice beforehand?  “No.”  Did they show you what to do?  “No.”  How did you know?  “They told us.”)  But he played well.  He looked around on the first few notes, to see how kids were doing it, and copied them.  And he got it.  He played when he was supposed to, and well.  That was my fifth, and very pleasant, surprise.

 Turns out, the bells were color coded.  He had a green one.  When the choir director lifted a card that had a green spot on it, he played.  It worked great, and the kids were really good.  It was fun!  And he even liked it!!  Grandpa is a really, really good preacher, too.  That was no surprise.

Categories: John's Blogs
  1. August 27, 2009 at 10:36 am


  2. mikewittmer
    August 27, 2009 at 2:42 pm

    Why wouldn’t you raise your hand?! You sound like me, except that I wouldn’t have caved at the end! 🙂

  3. J Lemke
    August 27, 2009 at 8:16 pm

    I dunno why I rebel against raising my hand. I’m a sit-in-the-back-and-stay-quiet kind of guy, I guess. But I’m also a bow-to-a-lot-of-pressure kind of guy.

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