Surprised may be the word that best describes the folks as they gathered in the worship center and waited for the service to begin. Just in front of the pulpit, where the communion table usually stood, there was a large table. Covered with pies. Apple. Peach. Banana cream. Chocolate. You know, the whole menu.
Nothing was said about the pies during the announcements. Nor during the offering appeal. Oh, this is probably an illustration for the children’s story, some guessed. Nope. Not then either. But it all began to come clear when the pastor warmed to his message. His appeal was that it is a simple thing to learn how to be a Christian witness. It can all begin with something as simple as sharing a loaf of bread with a neighbor. Or a pie.
He concluded, “After service I want each of you to come up and get a pie to take home. But, you are not to eat it. Pray over it and ask the Lord who He wants you give it to as a friendship gesture, and who knows, maybe it can lead to an opportunity to share Jesus’ love.”
Fast forward two years. Michael’s sister, Rebecca, in Indiana was ill. She had grown up a strong believer, but as an adult had strayed. It’s a long way from Michael’s home near Los Angeles to central Indiana, but he sensed God was placing on his heart a desire to help his sister find her way through a spiritually dry time in her life. Some friends provided frequent flyer miles for Michael and now he could be there to help.
Rebecca’s neighbors had become a tower of strength for her, too. As her disease had worsened they had prayed for her regularly, and had enlisted their entire church to pray. A bit suspicious at first, she watched their every move to see if their caring was real. She sensed it was.
Michael and Rebecca had nearly a week together before she was scheduled for surgery. It was obvious she was terrified. As he told me the story he described the unrelenting fear in her eyes. Sunday night before the scheduled surgery Michael asked Rebecca if he could have some of his friends pray for her. Without hesitating she agreed. He put his cell phone on speaker and Karen and Janet and Ruthie raised Rebecca before the throne of God in intense intercession. As they prayed, Michael could see the clouds lift revealing that Rebecca was re-discovering the peace she had lost.
Rebecca did not survive the surgery. As Michael worked his way through his grief he went to Rebecca’s neighbors to thank them for their positive spiritual influence which had really nurtured his sister and motivated her on her way. Curious, Michael asked, “What was it that brought you together…how did you even get acquainted?” “Well,” the neighbor answered, “one day our pastor had a bunch of pies on a table at the front of the church. He sent a pie home with each member and suggested we share it with a neighbor…”
Is it a stretch to say that a simple lemon pie had come full circle? And didn’t I read somewhere that the radius of a circle is a pie squared? (I never was good at math.)
*The story above is true; only the names have been left unchanged that God might have the glory.
By Don Jacobsen