The Rev. Richard Fairchild shared a story some years ago in the ChristianReaderfortnightly periodical titled, “Priceless Scribbles.” In the story, a young boy noticed that his younger brother, John, began to suspiciously shrink as his father entered the living room of their home. Knowing he was guilty of some iniquitous crime, the older boy looked around and saw his father’s brand-new church hymnal open on the upright piano and bright red scribbles all over the front page. Someonehad used a red crayon to defame the precious book!
Glowering at their father apprehensively, both brothers waited for the retribution sure to come. Yet their father gently picked up his prized hymnal, studied it, and then sat it back down without a word. Both boys knew how precious books were to their father—an ordained minister with several academic degrees. For him, books represented the unending quest for knowledge bespeaking of the glory of God in the world.
What their father did next was remarkable. Instead of punishing or scolding his doodling son, the loving, compassionate father took the red crayon from the little boy’s hand, and then wrote in the book himself, alongside the scribbles that John had made. “John’s work, 1959, age 2.” The father then turned to John and said, “How many times have I looked into your beautiful face and into your warm, alert eyes looking up at me and thanked God for the one who has now scribbled in my new hymnal. You have made the book sacred, as have your brother and sister to so much of my life.”
“Wow,” thought the older brother, “This is punishment?” Rev. Fairchild goes on to say how that hymnal became a treasured family possession, how it was tangible proof that their parents loved them, how it taught the lesson that what really matters in this life are people, not objects; patience, not judgment; love, not vengeance.
Love is an awesome force! This coming Sunday I will preach the third message in our summer sermon series Hymns My Mama Taught Meas we focus on the widely sung hymn “Love Lifted Me.” I am going to go over to the piano and take you back to a black church that I used to attend with a friend from time to time on Sunday afternoons. They did some of the hymns my mama taught me…but they sang them just a little differently! Don’t miss it!
I look forward to sharing this Father’s Day in worship with you and your family!
P.S. So many of you have shared how much you enjoyed last week’s sermon and musical performance with my parents—thank you. I’m grateful that they agreed to come and happy that so many of you were touched by the music. If you were away last week, never fear: we captured audio and video recordings and you can access it all on asburyonline.org.