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Charlie and The Church Keys

July 6, 2020

Come with me to a couple of decades ago.

Charlie owns and runs two successful businesses in town. He’s one of those people almost everyone seems to know. Everybody who knows him likes him, and most love him.

It’s time for Announcements in our Sunday morning worship service, and Charlie is at the lectern.

“Members of our family have keys to our home,” he begins.

“You want a key to our church building?” he asks the congregation.

“You can have a key.” He is the Chairperson of The Board of Trustees.

“We’ve had some problems recently with things going missing, and after the last time the police asked us who all has a key to the building,” he says, downplaying the situation.

“They think we have too many keys and copies of keys floating around town.” Slightly longer pause.  .

“Maybe you already have a key,” he says with a slow growing smile.

“It ‘s not going to work any more.” More of a smile.

“Because the Trustees and our Church Council have voted to change the locks, and it’s done!” Huge smile.

“But look!” he chuckles.

“Keys for everyone!” as he holds up the largest key ring I’d ever seen, easily a foot and a half across, filled with hundreds of keys.

He shakes it rhythmically, and we hear loud jangling, picked up quite well by the microphone.

“But here’s what different.” Serious face. Silence.

“They’re numbered. You’ll come to the office to get one. You’ll sign your name by the number on the Master List. Next time we have a problem with things going missing, the police will start with this list.

“And you’ll notice that each key has ‘Do Not Copy’ stamped into it, right below the number.

“These are not for the public. These are for you.

“It’s just like at my home and at your home. Members of your family have keys to your home.

“Our church is a family. This building is our home.” He wipes at one of his eyes.

“With that privilege comes responsibility.” He’s getting choked up.

“Thank you.”

He steps away from the lectern and winks across the chancel to where I’m sitting by the pulpit. I realize I’m gratefully grinning idiotically at him and his brilliance.

Someone begins applauding, then the entire congregation joins in.

He was Charlie.

I was his pastor.

One year ago today we had our last phone conversation. A few notes from what all he told me then —

“This is how it goes.”

“The doctor says I’m dying.”

“I’m ready.”

“I’m worn out.”

—- Later that week I was with him and his family. Not long after that it was my honor to officiate at his funeral.

I still miss him.

He exemplified what St. Paul encourages all of us to do in 1st Corinthians 1:10

I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought.

— Here’s how The Message Version ends that verse —

Learn to be considerate of one another, cultivating a life in common.

— Charlie lived that.

Two questions for you and me:

  1. Who do we have in our lives we need to thank for their presence and their influence? Let’s do. Today.
  2. Where in our lives are we enjoying privileges but ignoring responsibilities? Let’s change that. Today.

You would have loved Charlie. I sure did.

And I still do.

 

 

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2 Comments
  1. Christine permalink

    Thank you Joe. We have an amazing Charlie at journey too. I am grateful for God putting the most amazing mentors in my life. You, Harvey and Carrie. Thank you.

    I have a lot of people to thank and be ever grateful to this past few weeks.

    Like

  2. Diane B permalink

    God Bless youJoe,
    You’ve blessed me and my family, again!
    Thank you for sharing this..your message and remembering and loving “Charlie” touched my soul! I miss him so!! Miss his love, his guidance and his’ wisdom.
    He would be honored and full of tears knowing you would share his stories to spread the Gospel! I am deeply touched and give thanks to God for you.
    Carry on, good and faithful servant! You are loved. Diane

    Like

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