I toyed with the idea of leaving. I was uncomfortable being out in the storm any longer than I needed to be. Central Florida was hit with a three day storm that became “officially” and unofficial tropical storm.
It was originally called a winter weather event (whatever that means). Later, because the winds were stronger than most hurricanes that have hit the Florida east coast and the rain was up to 11 inches, the weather bureau updated the storm.
At Special Gathering, which is a ministry within the mentally challenged community, we are responsible to transport almost all of our members to our programs. Therefore, we close our chapel services during severe weather occurances. Our Saturday Vero program was closed. Also, the Melbourne Special Gathering was closed on Sunday.
Sunday morning I went to First United Methodist Church in Melbourne to insure that if any Special Gathering members came by the church there would be someone there to greet them and to let them know that we had cancelled. I had planned to go to the 11AM worship service at the church because it’s good to be able to visit our supporting churches whenever possible. Yet, as the time drew near, the weather was storming and I went to my van.
However, at 11, the rain stopped and the winds died. I decided to slip into the church sitting in the back. When the time in the service came to greet each other, a young man sitting by himself reached over, shook my hand and introduced himself. Assuming he was a member, I said, “I’m sure that you are a long time member here.”
“No,” he said. “This is my first visit. I’m a college student.”
“Hey, if you’d rather not sit alone, come and sit with me.”
He smiled and moved up one row to sit beside me.
Suddenly, I was grateful that I’d decided to stay for the service. Steve, one of the Special Gathering members said during a Bible study class discussion, “I feel love when I come to Special Gathering because I don’t have to sit by myself. You know, no one likes to sit alone.”
The young man and I parted outside the church. By the end of the service, the sun was still shining and the winds left long enough for me to drive home.
My church IQ is often a bit low. I’ve been in church all of my life. Nevertheless, I sometimes become so absorbed in my own thoughts, worries and concern that I fail to reach out and touch the people who are alone. Yet, today I was thankful that the Holy Spirit allowed me to be in the right place at the right time. As the young man and I shook hands for the last time, he said, “I’ll be back next week and I’ll bring my wife. She was working this week. Thanks for inviting me to sit with you.”
Enjoying a speck of sunshine that peeked through the cloudy sky, I walked slowly to my car. I felt that my church IQ had gone up a couple of points. Because I’m sure Steve, our Special Gathering member, was right, “Nobody likes to sit alone.”