In many of my sermons and writings, I am quick to point out what is wrong with the church today. I have even defended some who are not a part of a church by saying: “They have not given up on Jesus. They love Jesus. They want to follow Jesus. They simply do not see Jesus in the church. All they see in the church are hypocritical and judgmental people who think they are more righteous than those who do not think, act and look like them.” And sadly, a part of me realizes that I can preach love and grace every Sunday, and I can write about it every day, and I will never be able to change the minds of many who have given up on the church.
This is why I wished everyone could come to First Christian Church of Farmville, NC, for at least one Sunday, and worship with Bobby Hodge, Jr. who suffers with cerebral palsy.
I wished they could come into the front door on the corner of Church and Main at 10:55 am on Sunday, walk through the narthex, make an immediate right, and be greeted by Bobby who they will find sitting faithfully in his wheelchair, ready to worship and to give thanks to his God. I wished they could see his smile, experience his joy, shake his hand, and hear him call their name, as he does mine, “Good morning Jarrett Banks. It’s good to see you today.”
I wished they could hear Bobby, who has never been able to walk, who has always had trouble which his speech, who has always been in constant pain, ask me to pray during the service for his caregiver or for a neighbor who has not been feeling well. I wished they could hear Bobby remind me before the service to make an announcement about the CROP walk to raise money for those who are hungry.
I wished they could hear little Bobby sing the great hymns of faith and pray the Lord’s Prayer in unison with the congregation. I wished they could share the Lord’s Supper alongside of Bobby, listen to Christ tell Bobby and tell them, “This is my body which is broken for you. This is my blood shed for you.”
I wished they could watch Bobby as he listens intently to the sermon. I wished they could be there on a Sunday when I say something about God’s love that strikes a special chord within Bobby and hear him shout out loud: “You got that right!”
I wished they could speak to him after a sermon I may preach about spiritual gifts, about God giving all people, regardless of who they are, gifts to serve others through the church, and hear Bobby say: “I have served as a deacon. I have served on committees. I have raised more money for CROP walk and the hungry than anyone. I can do anything for God I want to do, and I do it all from a wheelchair.”
I wished they could hear Bobby speak to someone who has just joined the church as he says: “We are so glad to have you in our church. Please call me day or night and let me know if I can ever do anything for you.”
Yes, I wished every person, who thinks Jesus is not in the church, could come to First Christian Church of Farmville at least one Sunday morning and worship with Bobby Hodge, Jr.
Thank you Bobby for the way you reveal and share Jesus with so many. Thank you for being what is right with the church today. And Happy 47th Birthday!