Volume 1, Issue 5
March 16, 2009

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..

Waiting nervously for the preacher, the congregation heard someone coming. But it didn’t really sound like Darrell, the preacher. It was an unusual sound. Eyes turned to look. It WAS Darrell, but he was walking with a strange. . . well, almost a limp..

But. . . .it spoke too long.

As he cleared the doorway, it became apparent why Darrell was walking abnormally: wrapped around his ankle was an electric cord. And still attached to the electric cord was the clock.

All eyes glanced first at Darrell, then at the vacant space on the wall above the door, then back at Darrell’s ankle. Sure enough, it was THAT clock!

A few people had talked with Darrell after last Sunday’s departure from “normal.” Most had not. Those who had spoken with him had an unusual anticipation of today’s gathering, but still did not really know what to expect.

Darrell continued his movement to the front of the auditorium but did not assume a position behind the pulpit. As he cleared the furthest-front seated person, he turned and faced the group, cleared his throat and began:

“Good morning! I believe that I owe some of you an explanation. Some have already talked with me and know, but some of you didn’t ask me about last Sunday. So that there is no lack of understanding, I wanted to explain today.”

“When I look at the church as depicted in the New Testament, mentored by the Holy Spirit of our abba, I find no shackles at all, other than truth and the boundaries of the nature of our God. That seems fitting since Jesus said that those who were truly his disciples would be set free. But when I look at what we call the church today, I don’t see that same freedom.”

“Recently I made a commitment to my master and myself. I vowed that the message of abundant Life in the gift of Jesus would no longer be shackled by one of its greatest enemies: time. So, last Sunday, when I saw that the message I was trying to let God deliver through me regarding that greatest of gifts he could give was not interesting enough for hearers to ignore the clock, I quit: I quit the message for that day; I quit the restrictions that day; and, I quit the position that day. This will be my last message as a ‘hired hand’ in this congregation.”

“The church of the New Testament was the free-flowing life of the followers of Jesus, led by his spirit, speaking forth the life of the creator of life, in word and deed. We find that church gathered in various situations daily, in the temple and from house to house, teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ. Sometimes they remained gathered together until well after midnight; sometimes only until the spirit shook the place where they were gathered and they went out teaching and preaching, rejoicing! The things that were done were those things that family do: eating, sharing, praying, singing, encouraging, confessing, warning, teaching, carrying the burden’s of one another, suffering. And the clock did not reign! Neither did inherited structure reign. They were a free people, even under the existing bondage of the Roman Empire. As they were able and available, they were together. Some later began to forget and became distracted from their primary Life and had to be encouraged and warned to return to “exhorting one another daily.”

“From this day on, I want to encourage you, all of you, to become free enough to use your gatherings to truly encourage one another, to eat together, to share your burdens and victories, to pray for one another, to be active participants in the life of the family, the household of God, the church. Let those things flow. If people need to leave because of other commitments, give them the freedom to do so without guilt; if people need to arrive late, give them the freedom to do so without guilt. Become participants in your assemblies together. As Paul said, ‘…exhort one another, and all the more so as you see the day drawing near.’ However, one of the most restricting things in this pursuit will be this old enemy.”

Reaching down, Darrell unwrapped the electric cord and held up the lifeless clock!

“I will still be around, but I will neither normally nor always be here to preach. Each of you needs to become practiced in encouraging each other; I won’t be hindering that. Each of you needs to become practiced in being sensitive to the indicators of need that others quietly demonstrate; I won’t be hindering that. Each of you needs to become a participant in sharing songs that are meaningful to you; sing to one another. Each of you needs to become one who recognizes prayer needs and rises to meet those needs, individually and collectively; encourage each other to do so. Do it!”

“You will find that you have hamstrung the clock, rather than letting it hamstring you.” Holding up the clock by its cord, Darrell proclaimed: “This one is dead!”

Hamstrung – To disable by cutting the great tendon at the back of the hock; cripple; to render powerless or useless; thwart.


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