“Let’s play two,” Ernie Banks, the effervescent “Mr. Cub,” was known to say in his playing career. He loved to play so much that sometimes one game wasn’t enough; he preferred a doubleheader.
On Sundays, I often have my own version of this. My wife, Diane, serves a large suburban church with two different worship services going on simultaneously in the same building. During the program year (Sept – June), the traditional service meets in the sanctuary at 8:30, 9:45 and 11. The contemporary service is at 9:45 and 11 in a nearby flex-space called the Great Hall.
Today, at Shepherd of the Valley in Apple Valley, Minn., I felt like Ernie Banks at Wrigley Field. Diane preached in the contemporary service on the parable of the weeds in the wheat. “Let both of them grow together until the harvest,” Jesus urges. A counter-cultural notion, to be sure, especially in a country where juveniles are often treated so harshly in the justice system. (Pennsylvania, for example, is planning to try a 12-year-old as an adult for murder.)
My 7-year-old son, Luke, was with me for this service at 9:45, while his 9-year-old brother, Micah, attended “Godzone,” the SOTV version of Sunday School.
At 11 a.m., Micah and Luke switched places. Luke went to Godzone and I met up with Micah and my mother for the 11 a.m. service in the sanctuary. My St. Olaf classmate Chris Smith preached on John 21, in which the risen Jesus reconciles with Peter, plaintively posing the question three times, “Do you love me?” Peter, who earlier had denied him three times, commits to continuing the ministry.
The work of the church extends to much more than worship. Yet it begins there, as each week people of faith gather to be renewed and praise their Lord before being sent back into the world for acts of service.