12846 Daiber Road
Highland IL 62249

Pastor’s Corner: APRIL 2023

My son and I recently went to Lexington, Kentucky to attend the Lexington Comic and Toy Convention. It was a crazy, fun, awe-inspiring event. While we were there, my son and I were able to get our photograph with all 3 “Blue’s Clues” guys: “Steve” Steve Burns, “Joe” Donovan Patton, and “Josh” Josh Dela Cruz. My son also got his picture with the “Mercury Power Ranger” Dwayne Cameron. There were a lot of people dressed in cosplay (the practice of dressing up as a character from a movie, book, or video game) and a whole lot of toys, comics, artwork—whatever you could think of as being associated with any kind of movies, TV, comics, etc., it was there!  But, I ramble…

One evening after spending many hours walking around the convention center, we decided to head to a local Waffle House for a late supper. We had ordered, and a young family sat at the table behind us. Two precious little girls and their parents were anxiously waiting for the server to come take their order.

My son and I got our food, and the server began bringing the drinks and food to the young family behind us. My son and I began eating. As the young family continued getting their food, I heard the sweet little voice of one the little girls say, “Daddy, we gotta pray!” To which the dad replied, “Yes we do, sweetheart!” The dad then said a short prayer. I didn’t hear exactly what he prayed; I just heard all four of them say together, “Amen.”

I looked down at my food. I don’t know if my face turned red with shame or not, but I thought to myself it should have. Here I was—a Christian, a dad, A PASTOR FOR CRYING OUT LOUD, and I did not even think to ask my son to pray with me over our meal… Why was I not as BOLD and BRIGHT as that precious girl! Aren’t we are called to be witnesses!

Jesus said we ARE SALT and WE ARE LIGHT! Whether we see ourselves as those things or not, WE ARE SALT AND LIGHT! We, as believers in and followers of Jesus, are called to be DIFFERENT!

There were two scriptures that immediately popped into my head: a passage from Isaiah 11 and Luke 18—

Isaiah 11:6 (New Living Translation), “In that day the wolf and the lamb will live together; the leopard will lie down with the baby goat. The calf and the yearling will be safe with the lion, and a little child will lead them all.”

Luke 18:15-17 (New Living Translation), “One day some parents brought their little children to Jesus so he could touch and bless them. But when the disciples saw this, they scolded the parents for bothering him. Then Jesus called for the children and said to the disciples, ‘Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children. I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.’”

So, my son and I finished our meal, hearing the sweet laughter of the young family, and the two dear girls talking about how good their food was. I asked our server for the ticket of the young family—admittedly, maybe out of guilt, or maybe just by the simple joy brought by this family.

As I walked up to the register to pay for the tickets, I made a comment to the family that I heard one of the girls ask her daddy to pray. The mom and dad both said, “Yeah, we do… Every meal…” I then asked how old the girls were and their names—they were 2 (almost 3!) and 4, and their names were Mya and Madeline. They then shared that the mom was due in September with a little boy! My son and I shared our congratulations… I did not let them know I paid for their meal… I just thanked them again for their great witness.

As we left, I prayed, thanking God for this family and for the gifts Mya and Madeline were and are, and I also thought to myself, what a divine God moment that was! We had headed to Kentucky with our agenda to attend the Comic-con, but God had other plans in store for us!

I also got to thinking about Jesus, his Disciples and how they each had their plans and hopes for ministry and what it meant to be “the Messiah.” Another scripture comes to mind—

         “But Jesus called them together and said, ‘You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.’” John 20:25-28 (NLT)  

We remember the story told in John 20:20-28, when James and John “hid behind their mother’s skirt” and made their arrogant request for one to be seated at Jesus’ right and the other on his left. We can imagine that Jesus must have been deeply disappointed. Do you wonder if he thought, “My heavens, I have been with this crowd almost three years and they still don’t have a clue? They are still chasing the world’s idea of greatness.”

Rick Warren writes in The Purpose Driven Life that he supposes that Jesus called time-out. Perhaps over a meal where they all had a real “honest-to-goodness-come-to-Jesus-meeting.” He basically said, “Wanting to be a leader is fine, but leadership in my kingdom is defined by servanthood. Whoever is the best servant is also the best leader.” Jesus practiced what he preached. He specialized in menial tasks that everyone else tried to avoid: tending to children, fixing breakfast, and serving lepers.

Nothing was beneath him, because he came to serve. (Warren, Rick, The Purpose Driven Life, Zondervan: Grand Rapids, 2002, p. 260.) Do you realize our Lord is a model of “progressive humility?” God became human; that human man became a servant; and that servant became a sacrifice for the sins of the world! The disciples were looking for a great military kingdom led by the Messiah, but that is not who Jesus was—He was no ordinary King!

“[Jesus said,] ‘Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.’”

Have a blessed Easter!
Pastor Chuck Kurfman
Highland Hope United Methodist Church