Some people barely noticed; some gazed with mouths wide open; some simply picked up their song book and turned to the invitation song (That was the next thing, you know!); a few sat. smiling, knowing; some wept..
Years had gone into the preparation for this sermon. It wasn’t the old standard. It had nothing to do with condemning the Catholics or scorching the sinner with the fires of hell. It said nothing about how much money was needed to support this year’s budget. Neither did it insist that supporting orphanages with the church treasury was sin. No, this sermon was a matter of the heart; it spoke volumes about the grace of an eternal creator who poured out his love on a lost Earth to buy back his chain-bound, enslaved children. It spoke of the beauty of one who opened the womb of a virgin to bring forth light and life into a world longing to see and know its creator. It spoke of seeing the glory of God in the face of Christ Jesus. It spoke of life. It spoke a message of redemption. . It spoke of freedom. It spoke of transformation into the spirit of our God.
But. . . .it spoke too long.
Today was not any special day. It was not Super Bowl Sunday. It was not inauguration day. It was not the Rose Bowl. It was just Sunday, like any Sunday. Except that this Sunday, Darrell spoke with the depth of knowledge that could not be contained in note cards or manuscript or overhead projection: he spoke from a heart touched by the love and knowledge of his father. He spoke with power and conviction.
But, one conviction he had was that he would not compete with one enemy. If his message was not one that could captivate hearts and minds long enough to keep all eyes off the clock in the back, he would quit. He was through with being shackled by the clock. No, he wouldn’t punish his “audience” with long, dry sermons; but neither would be compete for attention. If the message of Jesus was too boring for this group, then he would take the message where it would be attended with interest.
Weeks ago, he had made it known that gatherings of the church should become unfettered, within reason, so that the family could become more intimate and sharing with one another. His focus had changed to simply painting over and over, pieces of the tapestry of Jesus, the fullness of deity in human form. He desperately wanted to help others see what the Christ really was, and what the church really was. Little had changed. But he was being changed.
He did not want attention to himself; he simply wanted attention to the message of Jesus. He did not want to be judgmental; but he did want to send a real message.
So, when that hoary head of one of the elders turned to check the clock in the back, his message was done. That was the signal that he had run out of time; that the message was hamstrung by that old nemesis: time. Well, not really time; just people’s perception of time, of what really is important, crucial.
Hamstrung – To disable by cutting the great tendon at the back of the hock; cripple; to render powerless or useless; thwart.