Last night the Wesley Foundation, a campus ministry, of North Alabama University held their first ever fundraiser in Florence, Alabama. They brought in Mark Lowry with his back up singing group, Lord Song, and piano player, Stan Whitmire. This was to be a concert and dinner banquet. The plan was to sell 800 tickets. A church could buy a block of tickets and thus reserve a table or two. Or you could just buy individual tickets. Why were they holding a fundraiser? Because the Campus Ministry and the building had become neglected, needed funding, and some much needed repairs to the building.
We bought a pair of tickets to go. We could not convince enough in the church to buy tickets to reserve a table. But that was alright, the ones of us who bought them were going to get there early, and find a table. Well, we were late of course. Hard to get everything done and ready with three kids and work. When we walked in there were people standing to the side, the room was full, and the tables were full. Okay how did that happen? I knew they had not sold a hundred tickets by the time they had to tell the Marriott how many were coming. There should have been some seats somewhere. Well, we were told there were some individual seats and we would have to split up and sit there. Little ole me at that point, said to the head person, "We will not be split up from our spouses, now you figure this out." So they went looking, but there were just individual seats.
I said, "nope that won't do, we paid good money for an evening together, and we won't sit separately." Finally the head guy said "okay we'll put up a new table for you all." Well we stood there and stood there, and finally they put one up. In the meantime one other person said, "I found two together somebody can sit out." I told one of the couples to go ahead. But they wouldn't have anything to do with it and pushed Bob and me forward. One of them blurted out that it was Pastor appreciation month for me to go ahead. Well, we went up and there was only one seat, went back and told the head person, and said again, "you need to get this taken care of now." Every one else was eating by then. Finally a table, a quick set up, and the beginning of a meal. We hadn't even received the main course when they said it was time for the show to start. A little put out.
Well, it turns out, that in order to sell enough tickets to make enough money, they sold tickets for the show only. Now those tickets were suppose to be different and say show only, and those people were only suppose to show up at a certain time. But the ticket maker and in charge of selling person forgot to tell the people taking up the tickets that there was a difference. People who bought tickets for the show only were sitting at the tables with the meals and eating them. And they had not paid for the meals. Plus when they opened the doors, people just rushed in and claimed any table even though they might not have been reserved for their group. Chaos reigned. The campus minister kept coming around and apologizing. She's my new friend, and I know she really felt bad. The head of the banquet room kept checking on us and making sure we had everything, and apologizing.
Now this is a Christian show. A fundraiser for a known Christian organization. Mostly Methodist church members and churches, who should be Christian or have Christian values, bought tickets. What does that tell you? I really wanted to stand up at the mike and say how the so called Christians were not being Christian and that they were cheating not only the organization, and others, but God. We all prayed at our table that they should be sick from such an act. I think I could have stood up there and said a prayer that would have gotten them to get up, apologize or given money to the Wesley Foundation. I come from a long line of guilt layers, trip givers, and shamers, and know how to make it work. But, alas I was not in charge. I still think they should feel guilty enough to send in a check a big check on a regular basis.
Well, lo and behold after the show, one of my church members, a woman took me by the shoulders and said, "I want to thank you for standing up for us, if you hadn't we would still be in the back standing. Thank you." Wow, I was surprised. She said to me then, "do your remember what you said to me the first Sunday you were here?" I said no, "I have said a lot between then and now." But apparently she remembered. She said "you told me you may not be the best preacher we ever had, but you will be a good Pastor, and you are one. You were my Pastor tonight." Well, I didn't stay with them or make it happen just to get a complement, although I got to tell you it felt good. I did it because I am their Pastor.
Now there is more to this rant about Campus Ministry, but I'll save that for later.
And if you read this and you ate a plate of food that you didn't pay for, may God have mercy on you. Oh and Mark Lowry was absolutely funny. The singers were great, and the piano player was awesome. Mark has found God's grace or it has found him, and he weaved that in and out of his stories. The singers were great, especially when they did an agapella version of The Lord of the Dance. However, I cannot stand the Southern Gospel theology. And the food was good too, especially the desert.