• David Osteen

Parable of the Cancelled Services

One Saturday the elders of a church sent out a notice to all of the brethren that services that Sunday were cancelled due to forecasted inclement weather. While a few brethren were up-set and perplexed because there was only a 10% chance of sprinkles, many were relieved.

The next week, the elders sent out a notice again that services were going to cancelled for a second week in a row, this time, due to a flu epidemic that was going around. Some of the members were disappointed and wondered why just the sick people couldn’t stay home, but others were relieved to have another Sunday “free”.

The following week, AGAIN the elders sent out a notice to the church to inform them that ser-vices would be cancelled due to a reported “possible power outage” due to construction in the area. Word started to spread amongst the members of the discontent that was rising against the church leadership. These didn’t seem like valid reasons to be cancelling services.

For the fourth week in a row the elders again sent out notice to the brethren that services would be cancelled, this time due to a reported meteor shower and the elders didn’t want to risk them all being gathered together and a meteor striking the building. Now the brethren were getting livid. How could these “shepherds” be canceling services for such ridiculous reasons and taking away the flocks’ right to gather and be encouraged by each other. The brethren weren’t going to stand for it anymore!

Then next week the elders sent out notice AGAIN, that services would be cancelled because the Super Bowl was going to be on and this was a once a year special event that couldn't be missed. Some of the men of the church were half excited at not having to “choose” where to be this year, or make a “lame” excuse to justify staying home and watching the game, but they were also half livid that this was the 5th time the elders were cancelling services - and they knew it wasn’t for a good reason. The brethren formed an alliance to confront their bad shepherds and call them out on their misbehavior, and called a meeting for that Wednesday night to set these men and these matters straight.

Wednesday night came along and as the elders entered the building with their wives the brethren were already assembled there waiting to give them a piece of their mind. One took control shouting out, “Who gave you the right to be canceling the assembling of the Saints that Jesus has commanded through His Apostles within the Holy Scriptures? Don’t you know that we are to gather each week and edify and encourage one another in the body of Christ? Don’t you know we are to be together in honor of our Lord in the partaking of the Memorial Supper? Don’t you know how much our souls need the nourishment, strength, and rejuvenation that comes by praying together, singing together, and studying together? How are we supposed to give to the work of the Lord on the first day of every week if you keep canceling the services?”

There were a lot of supportive “Amen’s!”, and “That’s right!”, and “You tell’em!” as the man spoke. You could see the anger and disappointment on the peoples’ faces. One of the elders stood up and said, “You are right. We’ve been wrong.” as the mob shook their heads in agreement. “But, the truth is, we’ve been here every single week wondering if anyone was going to let their right, and responsibility, to worship as a church not be taken away from them. Our attendance numbers have been falling all year. Especially on Wednesday night. In fact, this is by far the biggest attendance we’ve had on a Wednesday night in Years…” the elder said emphatically, before pausing and adding, “...AND everyone was on-time!!!”

“Yes, we know what the Lord commands. Yes, we know how valuable it is to spend this time together in worship. Yes, we know there are legitimate reasons for not going to services and illegitimate ones. Our fear, as your shepherds, is that you didn’t know. Our fear, is that you were losing the love, thankfulness, and appreciation for this blessing that the Lord has given us. How many of you would’ve missed services because it was sprinkling outside? How many of you would’ve missed; not because you were sick, but others were sick? How many of you would’ve missed for the Super Bowl, or the Olympics, or a child’s soccer game, or some other ‘once-every-so-often’ special event? We hear these lame (sin-sick) excuses every week! If it’s okay for you to cancel services for yourself for these excuses; why are you upset we cancel services for everyone for these same excuses?”

The people sat stunned and silent as they realized the teaching of their shepherds. They were the ones who were taking for granted the blessing of the worship services, and they renewed their commitment that day to love the Lord with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to show their love and appreciation by making worship service attendance the priority it always should’ve been.

Do we understand the point of the parable and love and appreciate the blessings of the Lord the way that we should? Do we show appreciation for the blessing of the assembly of the saints by attending AND participating as commanded? Do we show appreciation for the blessing of our jobs by “giving back” as we should? Do we show appreciation for the blessing of the word of God by reading and studying our bibles regularly? Do we show appreciation for the blessing of our salvation in Christ Jesus by sharing the gospel of salvation with others? Do we show appreciation for the blessing of prayer by being fervent in it? I’m sure you wouldn’t stand by idly if someone tried to take these blessings away from you… so don’t stand by idly and take these blessings away from yourself either.

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