The Gospel Tent

August 1, 2007 at 6:41 pm Leave a comment

 Funny how time away makes you mellow. I was intending a nice rant today about Richard Dawkins and atheism (He wrote The God Delusion). I’ve been savouring the opportunity since late April but the library had difficulty getting me a copy, even though I was number two on the list! Meanwhile, much has been said about Dawkins and the book but I wanted my shot.

I was preaching last weekend and we decided to take a tour, leaving Friday and returning Monday, so we could visit some folks we hadn’t seen for awhile. The service was in one of my favourite churches and although I sang and played my guitar, it went fairly well. The people left smiling. I’m not sure if it was because of the singing/guitar or if they were spiritually uplifted. Of course they may just have been glad it was over! The visiting was great and the service gave me peace.

The result of all this is that I returned home relaxed and mellow. I looked at what I’d written about Dawkins and his book and thought, “Ahhhh….. who cares anyway?” I found the book to be much ado about very little. Dawkins should stick to science. ‘Nuff said.

I had noticed an ad in our local paper about a Gospel Tent crusade that was happening in a little hamlet near home. The ad said there would be no collections; I was sold and I was mellow enough that I went. It was a little hard to find because the directions were off and the tent was behind a wall at the entrance to a gravel pit, but God led me to it. After seeing these tent meetings on television I was excited to experience one for myself. The theme of the crusade was “Unchangeable Truth for Changing Times” with Evangelists Ed Miller and George Patterson.

It was a hot night and I went prepared with bottled water and a hankie. The tent was smaller and cooler than I expected. There were lawn chairs for maybe 80 people but there were only 15 souls that night. I have a reputation of crushing lawn chairs and these looked pretty feeble. I found one near the back with wooden arms and eased into it (you could see people cocking their heads to listen for the SNAP – THUNK!!). I was handed a hymn book from 1932. I looked around. The folks attending were just plain folks. Some young family types and some retired types. The women all wore head covering. There were no musical instruments. There were fluorescent lights up top and charts about the road to heaven on the wall (in English and ….. Spanish!?).

Pastor George jumped up right at 7:30 and invited us to sing. He led us in a hymn I didn’t know, but fortunately the tune was familiar. We sang a couple more that I’d never heard before. People sang loudly. Pastor George then stepped to the pulpit and spoke to us in a conversational manner. I was expecting fire and brimstone but got gentle preaching. Pastor George sat down and Pastor Ed came to the pulpit. He hung his cane on the lectern, took a sip of water and looked around. In an Irish accent he thanked us for coming and noted there were only two children there, one buoy and one garl. He mentioned he had been preaching three times per week for over 60 years. He started reading from Isaiah 43; people opened their bibles (KJV) and followed along. He moved on to Luke 23 and the usher handed me a bible. I opened it and the Holy Spirit took flight right in front of my eyes in the form of a moth! Pastor Ed was getting louder now, he was on a roll. His message was that we are all filthy sinners and needed to change our ways or go to hell. He looked at the little garl and proclaimed that little garls who lie to their parents will go to hell. The little garl climbed on her daddy’s lap and hugged him. He moved on to the Psalms and I knew why I had been guided there. Psalm 22 spoke to me loud and clear:

1. My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? Why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring?

2. O my God, I cry in the daytime, but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent.

This has been the chorus of my life lately. But then we read:

24. For he (God) hath not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; neither hath he hid his face from him; but when he cried unto him, he heard.

We sang a few more hymns then Pastor Ed looked at his watch. It was 8:30 now and he prayed and we filed out. Pastor Ed never did get to the fire and brimstone stage but he was definitely loud and didn’t need the PA system. I remembered that Billy Graham settled down in old age too. Outside, I hoped to talk to Pastor Ed but he was busy with the garl and buoy so I headed for the car. Folks all smiled and waved as I left. Not a bad experience.

Hmmmm….. So God told me through Pastor Ed that I wasn’t forgotten. It was Old Testament, Old Theology, Old Tyme Religion but God had spoken. Isn’t that what it’s all about?

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Entry filed under: Wrestling With God.

Turm Your Computer OFF/ Star Wars Mary Mary

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