"Where Two or Three Are Gathered Together"
A message presented to Louisa Christian Church, Louisa, Virginia
By C. Page Highfill
Recently the lyrics I wrote for a church hymn about 10 years ago were selected by my sister’s church to serve as their Choral Introit for the beginning of their worship services. Soon after that invitation, the church also invited me to speak one Sunday morning and unfold some of the background motivations and purposes behind the lyrics. I gladly did. I am posting the text to that message here, because I believe the true story behind the lyrics is the greater significance, and it also illustrates a genuine example of Heart and Spirit working together through others, for others. That’s what this Blog is about. Here is the message.
Good morning. It’s a real pleasure to finally be here today – after so many snow storms and postponements. I’m sorry I missed your Youth Sunday. You know, we’ve had so many snow storms, that I had another birthday. And now I’m too old to be a Youth anyway. Not really – Jesus said. And, we’ll talk more about that later. I’m here today to tell you the story behind and the Biblical influence on your new Choral Introit, the words of which God guided me to write about 10 years ago for a special music event honoring my mother and her music ministry.
During the sunset years of my mother’s life, she lived at Imperial Plaza, an assisted living facility in Richmond, Virginia. My wife Kate and I would pick mom up each Sunday morning and take her to First Baptist Church. She was always dressed so nicely, because my two sisters, Pat and Betty Jean would visit her during the week and select her dress for Sunday, leaving a note pinned to it in the closet so that the nurses’ aide could identify that “Dress for Sunday.”
On our way to church, mom would so often tell Kate and I of the joys she had that week playing her piano in the dining room, after dinner for the residents. And they all would sing hymns together. I learned later that actually we have very little control over the presence of Joy. We can’t buy it, or demand it, or create it ourselves. Joy is the result of Jesus’ presence among us. Or as my sister Betty Jean reminded me, J-O-Y is the type of JOY that Jesus Offers You.
Well, when mom played her favorite hymns at dinner, she and her resident friends often continued to sing through dessert and into the cleanup phase and beyond. Jesus must have been there. Because that’s the joy my mom was experiencing. And she loved it. Her resident friends loved it too. Often as Kate and I walked down mom’s hallways to our car, going to church, residents would stop mom, look into her eyes and ask if she would be playing the piano tonight. Mom always answered, “Yes, God willing.” There was a very special relationship among residents and mom’s music.
During the Christmas season of 1999, Pat and Betty Jean along with my brother, Jerry, came up with a great idea to host a special sing along gathering at Mom’s place for her and her resident friends, staff and outside guests. Mom, Pat, Betty Jean and Charlene a cousin, could all play the piano during the sing along. They could also sing with everyone else there, and Jerry, could also sing a solo. It was to be a very special music event to be held just after the Christmas season. Weeks before the event, I wondered what I could do to help. I immediately knew that one way to help was for me NOT to sing. My brother and sisters agreed.
But maybe I could help in another way. I prayed about it and searched the Bible for God’s will for me. Then, I came across Matthew 18. And that’s where I found the words I was looking for. As our scripture today I would like to read you some of those words from Matthew 18 (NKJV)
1 “At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” 2 Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, 3 and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me.”
You see here Jesus telling us to become as a child. Here in Matthew 18 Jesus begins a fourth discourse talking mainly to his disciples about relationships….relationships in the church, and in the Kingdom of heaven. And he is telling us too who will have the highest rank in heaven -- children, or more specifically the humble pure spirit of a child.
Now in verse 10…
10 “Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that in heaven their angels always see the face of My Father who is in heaven.”
The status in heaven may then be the INVERSE of our worldly status. For surely the humble spirit of a child is not the highest worldly status, is it? Yet the scriptures tell us; when we embrace the weak, we embrace Christ.
(Verses 18-19 From Eugene Peterson’s - The Message) 18-19"Take this most seriously: A yes on earth is yes in heaven; a no on earth is no in heaven. What you say to one another is eternal. I mean this. When two of you get together on anything at all on earth and make a prayer of it, my Father in heaven goes into action.”
This Message continues into the posts below.
This Message continues into the posts below.