Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News

Walter Albritton

March 9, 2008


Just one time I want to see every seat in the house taken


      At my age drastic measures are necessary if my dream is ever to become reality. Just once before I die want to preach to a full house without a single empty seat in sight. So I have a plan.

          I am asking all my friends to help me pack out our worship center on Palm Sunday as a way of honoring our choir. I don’t want to do it on Easter Sunday; everybody would say, “So what? You always have a big crowd that Sunday.” Choosing the Sunday before Easter makes it more of a challenge.

          You might suppose I have had several packed houses on past Easter Sundays. But no, every time there have always been a few empty seats. Empty pews, empty chairs, are an ugly thing. Preaching to empty seats makes me so depressed I want to cry. Yet I have been doing it all my life.

Just once I want to turn people away from church. In fact, I have already asked a friend to bring his video camera and be ready to film people leaving because no seats are available. That will be a sight for sore eyes. A good newspaper reporter could see a story in that and I can provide a color picture to go with the story.

          My dream is to have the church so full that the Fire Marshall will call and reprimand me for allowing so many people in the room. Hopefully he will not belong to a church so I can persuade him to join our congregation the next Sunday.

          I really thing my plan is going to work because our choir is so good. I have written and emailed a few dozen people asking them to fill the church to affirm the choir. On a good Sunday we have about 25 men and women singing in the choir. They sit up front on risers until they have sung the anthem, then they walk down and sit with friends in the congregation.

          But just imagine the look on their faces if they have to stay up front because there are no empty seats down front. I can see every one of them grinning from ear to ear because they have just sung to a packed house. What a story they will have to share with their grandchildren.

          I believe people will come because our choir is worthy of their affirmation. We don’t have the money to send them to Hawaii for a vacation but we can give them a “thumbs up” by filling the house. A good dose of affirmation is, like laughter, a mighty fine medicine.

          I thought about offering a free trip to Reno to the person who brings

the most people to church on Palm Sunday. But I concluded that preachers should not add to the temptations that people already have to deal with. Plus I want people to do things for the right reason. And the right reason is to honor our faithful choir members for the difference they make in our lives every Sunday.

          I have promised to preach one of Robert Schuller’s best sermons that Sunday and keep everybody awake until the benediction. But I am not promising we will be out by 12 o’clock. If I get to preach to a packed house, I may preach until sundown.

          The plan to realize my dream is now an open secret. These then are days of waiting and praying, and wondering if the Fire Marshall will have reason to call me. + + +