Erroll Garner and Dinner at Church

Written by Roger Wright

Whistling Misty

Connecting Erroll Garner and a Holy Meal

“The next time you put on a dinner, don’t just invite your friends and family and rich neighbors. The kind of people who will returnrepparttar favor. Invite some people who never get invited out. The misfits fromrepparttar 143684 wrong side ofrepparttar 143685 tracks. You’ll be---and experience—a blessing. They won’t be able to returnrepparttar 143686 favor, butrepparttar 143687 favor will be returned. Oh---how it will be returned!”

Luke 14:12 “The Message” Translation

The soft summer rain dingedrepparttar 143688 black plastic lids ofrepparttar 143689 garbage bins inrepparttar 143690 alley out behindrepparttar 143691 church asrepparttar 143692 man withrepparttar 143693 shopping cart andrepparttar 143694 battered blue Cubs hat just picked out ofrepparttar 143695 gutter whistledrepparttar 143696 first two bars of “Misty” with a resonance that would have made Erroll Garner--who wrote and recordedrepparttar 143697 songrepparttar 143698 year that I was born --break into a big old smile.

Almost dinner time. A holy celebration coming.

Erroll Garner would have been 84 this week. Brought back by Clint Eastwood inrepparttar 143699 1970’s to play his tune in Eastwood’s movie “Play Misty for Me.” Today it’s hard to separate Garner’s masterpiece fromrepparttar 143700 cheesy lyric added later by somebody else. (“Look at me. . . .I’m as helpless as a kitten up a tree . . . .”)

Hard to lift out and hear Garner’s tune. Unless you are Clint Eastwood, you really know jazz and are world class good at what you do.

Either that . . . or you’re inrepparttar 143701 alley out behindrepparttar 143702 church. Thenrepparttar 143703 tune comes gentle asrepparttar 143704 rain andrepparttar 143705 holy meal just about to start.

In that alley right off a rush hour Damen Avenue,repparttar 143706 man parks his shopping cart offrepparttar 143707 beaten path next torepparttar 143708 chain link fence. Two black labs just bursting with life inrepparttar 143709 yard onrepparttar 143710 other side of that fence bound up to investigate; barking and sniffing.

Chuck, who is explainingrepparttar 143711 job to me inrepparttar 143712 natural rhythm of one born to be a leader, says “Now it’s OK if folks leave their shopping cart here. That cart’s their home. Gotta make sure it’s safe.”

Chuck and I circle thoughrepparttar 143713 alley, back on to Grace, right on Damen, ending up atrepparttar 143714 front ofrepparttar 143715 church. “So that’s it,” he says. “Making sure we’re a good neighbor.” Back in front ofrepparttar 143716 Damen Avenue door, which leads down torepparttar 143717 Open Pantry andrepparttar 143718 hall whererepparttar 143719 meal is just about to start, we seerepparttar 143720 two men waiting, sitting inrepparttar 143721 stoop ofrepparttar 143722 house next door.

Stepping north acrossrepparttar 143723 alley,repparttar 143724 golden tones of “Misty” still reverberating out for all who care to listen, Chuck and I get to do something subversive and radical. We get to say and then motion with our arms “Hey, come on over here!”

“Hey, come on over here!” A message that run in direct and total opposition torepparttar 143725 divisive cry of “Hey! Move along! The call of “You are on your own!” that permeatesrepparttar 143726 very fabric of our world.

“Hey, come on over here!” Like an alien shriek, or maybe something soft asrepparttar 143727 man whistling “Misty.” A phrase as bizarre as church itself.

Five words to describe what evangelism really means, “Hey, come on over here.”

Looking straight at one man and thenrepparttar 143728 other, I say, with a smile inrepparttar 143729 words: “I’m in charge of standing around. It’s my specialty. You guy’s want to help?” The two men guffaw. Chuck silently pronounces me trained forrepparttar 143730 task. He turns and goes back inside to finish preparingrepparttar 143731 meal.

Chuck had supplied me with a trash bag. So I say to my two fellow sentries, “Guys, I forgot to tell you that sometimes I just suck at standing around. Don’t do it well at all. So I’m gonna walk around and pick up trash. If you see anybody inrepparttar 143732 alley, or a neighbor’s front steps or yard---will you tell them, “Hey, c’mon over here? You know, make sure they know they’re with us?”

“You a crazy man!” one ofrepparttar 143733 men smiles.

“Sometimes I am good at standing around. Sometimes I just can’t!” I wave, walking away, bending down to pluck an empty potato chip wrapper out from underrepparttar 143734 rose bushes and stuff it in my litter bag.

The rain picks up just a little. Still light. It sweeps that soft melody of “Misty” out fromrepparttar 143735 mouth ofrepparttar 143736 alley on to Damen Avenue, and it coversrepparttar 143737 full east side ofrepparttar 143738 church like a musical offering to allrepparttar 143739 hymns inside. Thenrepparttar 143740 blended rain andrepparttar 143741 melody sweeps right back out torepparttar 143742 car clogged city street again.

Floating downrepparttar 143743 parkway on Damen, somehow still fluttering despiterepparttar 143744 rain andrepparttar 143745 music --- a napkin---never used. A foot fromrepparttar 143746 ground. I grab it just before it lights on torepparttar 143747 wet grass.

And in grabbingrepparttar 143748 napkin, inrepparttar 143749 rain, hearing “Misty”---I am back at my first holy meal.

It’s at a Burger King.

Mr. Punnett was presiding. And we were all carefully spreading napkins onrepparttar 143750 orange and tan plastic seats bolted torepparttar 143751 floor. My sister and I, Mrs. Punnett, Spencer Punnett, who was around ten just like me. His brothers Ian and Eric. In later years, I would be proud to be called “the other Punnett brother.” We had just leftrepparttar 143752 Christian Science Church. There was something that carried on from Church to this meal. Like Sunday school andrepparttar 143753 meal inrepparttar 143754 Burger King were allrepparttar 143755 same thing.

Now back up on Damen inrepparttar 143756 rain. I pick uprepparttar 143757 last ofrepparttar 143758 litter; ask my two new friends if they are going to help other folks stand around. They say they will work on it. And I go down into Fellowship Hall to see if there’s anything I can do to help before I make my next set of rounds.

Inside,repparttar 143759 meal s just about to begin---so I go up and motion my two fellow sentries inside.

Walking throughrepparttar 143760 door and into Fellowship Hall. There is a purpose in this room. The quiet, Lutheran dignity ofrepparttar 143761 work,---repparttar 143762 service--- as Trudi andrepparttar 143763 others who formrepparttar 143764 living historical bedrock of this one street corner church in Chicago. That dignity and order washes over one just by walking throughrepparttar 143765 door. I whisper a mispronounced high school German phrase to myself. “Arbeit macht des lebens suiss.” (I think I remember it meaning, “Work makes life sweet.”) If you asked anybody who was serving here, what they were doing or why they were here, they’d tell you they were serving dinner. That’s it. Why even bother with such a question?”

Torepparttar 143766 observer though: “These people are making history”

And in seeingrepparttar 143767 order imposed so gently onrepparttar 143768 room, one senses how that order soothesrepparttar 143769 troubled souls gathered here forrepparttar 143770 meal.

Order. Rules. They are not always fun. And they are rarely as gentle as they are in this room withrepparttar 143771 rain whistling Erroll Garner’s “Misty” outsiderepparttar 143772 windows.

Mr. Punnett had rules. Back during one ofrepparttar 143773 times I lived inrepparttar 143774 Punnett basement, kept company and kept warm inrepparttar 143775 most brutal Chicago snows by a friendly throbbing, ancient boiler; I was truly surprised and schooled by one ofrepparttar 143776 rules. It arose in preparing for a visit from Laura.

A Live Church — Or A Dead One?

Written by Stephen Kingery

Have you ever stopped to consider what kind of church your congregation is — alive or dead? Does your congregation put forthrepparttar sense of one that is alive in its service to and worship of God? Or does your congregation put forthrepparttar 143605 sense that it is just hanging on, waiting forrepparttar 143606 last nail to be driven intorepparttar 143607 "coffin?" I would like to suggest some characteristics of a church that is alive, on fire for God. And then contrast that withrepparttar 143608 characteristics of a church that is dying.

Live churches are constantly changing. They are not changingrepparttar 143609 message inrepparttar 143610 Bible, for that never changes. They do not switch from one new fad doctrine to another every timerepparttar 143611 "spiritual wind" changes. NO, that is not what I mean. However, our society is changing. Anyone who pays any attention at all torepparttar 143612 world around us knows this is true. Inrepparttar 143613 early part of this centuryrepparttar 143614 church wasrepparttar 143615 focal point ofrepparttar 143616 family and even of society in many areas. I fully agree that it should be thus today, butrepparttar 143617 fact remains that it is no longer true. Forrepparttar 143618 Christian it should be true. But for many of them it is no longer true. People no longer flock torepparttar 143619 church for that social interaction.

The church must reach out torepparttar 143620 community andrepparttar 143621 lost. We must learn to leaverepparttar 143622 four corners of our sanctuary and seek out those whom Jesus commanded us to, and do what He said. "Go therefore and make disciples of allrepparttar 143623 nations, baptizing them inrepparttar 143624 name ofrepparttar 143625 Father and ofrepparttar 143626 Son and ofrepparttar 143627 Holy Spirit." (Matthew 28:19) That may mean doing things just a little differently than we have inrepparttar 143628 past. It may mean that we take "the church" back intorepparttar 143629 home with small group Bible Study. I may mean that we develop "family circles" with several families that have some things in common so they can relate to each other. It may mean that we start "ministering" to those who have been divorced, are one-parent families,repparttar 143630 homeless, and yes evenrepparttar 143631 homosexuals and other undesirables. It may mean that we not only feedrepparttar 143632 hungry but also minister to them as well.

Changing may also mean that our worship service changes from one which is rigid, alwaysrepparttar 143633 same Sunday after Sunday after Sunday; to one which is more joyous. It may change from one with "stone faces" to one with Christians smiling and singing and praising God. It may mean that our worship services are exciting and full of variety. It may mean that asrepparttar 143634 congregation leavesrepparttar 143635 worship service they have more joy in their hearts and a spring in their step because they know they have been inrepparttar 143636 presence of God!

Dead churches don't have to change. All they have to do to remain a dead church, is NOTHING! Dead churches don't have to improve forrepparttar 143637 future, they just worship their past.

Live churches have lots of noisy kids! After all, kids will be noisy. What do lots of kids indicate? It indicates thatrepparttar 143638 church has lots of families that are inrepparttar 143639 child-bearing years - twenty to forty year-olds. Why is this important? Ifrepparttar 143640 church is to thrive, it must contain a significant proportion of these families. Older families no longer have young children. Ifrepparttar 143641 church is mostly older families, who will continue asrepparttar 143642 families begin to go on to be withrepparttar 143643 Lord? Dead churches don't have lots of noisy kids, dead churches are fairly quiet!

Live church's expenses will most likely exceed their income. But that is where faith comes in. A church that is alive will seek new ways to minister torepparttar 143644 people, not regardingrepparttar 143645 cost in money. We must do our part inrepparttar 143646 kingdom. God will providerepparttar 143647 finances to do that job!

There is a principle in strategic planning called, "Cost - Benefit Analysis." In other words, when a plan of action is under consideration,repparttar 143648 cost of that plan must be considered in relation torepparttar 143649 benefits which will be received from that plan of action. Inrepparttar 143650 business world andrepparttar 143651 world of education, I agree that this is a good practice. But inrepparttar 143652 church? How can we put a "Cost-Benefit Analysis" torepparttar 143653 winning of one soul? How much does it cost to win a soul to Christ? Does it matter? Christ certainly did not put that principle in His Great Commission! How much does it cost to minister to one-parent families? Does that matter? How much does it cost to feedrepparttar 143654 poor? Does that matter? Now please don't misunderstand me! I am not suggesting thatrepparttar 143655 church go on a spending spree that would put Howard Hughes (if he were still alive) inrepparttar 143656 poor house. Let's be good stewards ofrepparttar 143657 money God provides, but let's step out on faith to do His work.

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