Today I have something out of the ordinary and a bit fun (at least it was fun for me to write). Our second daughter is in Grade 1 and her teacher was introducing the class to Flat Stanley. According to one source, “Flat Stanley is a series of chapter books about a boy named Stanley who was flattened by a board in the middle of the night. The books are about his adventures as a flat kid.” Our daughter brought home an assignment for me in which I was to write a short story involving Stanley. The story would also demonstrate what I do in my work from day to day. It would then be included in a collection of short stories from all the dads in the Grade 1 class. So, that’s the explanation and now here’s my story.
My Visit with Flat Stanley
One morning I was sitting in my study working on my computer. All of a sudden I looked at my Facebook page and there was a friend request. Somebody named Stanley wanted to be friends with me. I had never heard of Stanley before. So, I looked through Stanley’s list of friends to see if there was anyone that I knew. Sure enough, there were many people that Stanley knew that I knew too, so I thought that Stanley might be a good person to know. I clicked “accept” and all of a sudden I had a new friend!
I went to his Facebook profile page to look at his pictures. One thing I noticed was that Stanley looked rather flat. But other than that, he looked like a fun person to get to know.
It was time to get back to work on my making my sermons for Sunday. So I opened my Hebrew Old Testament and I started translating Genesis 9 from Hebrew into English. There were some really interesting things in the Hebrew! I was just starting to get into it and then I saw a message blinking at the bottom of my computer screen, “New message from Stanley! New message from Stanley!” I didn’t expect to hear from him so soon.
So, we started chatting over Facebook. The conversation went like this (I cut and pasted it):
Stanley: Hello Reverend Bredenhof!
Me: Hi, Stanley!
Stanley: Are you having a good day?
Me: This is an awesome day! I get to study the Bible and make sermons telling people good news about Jesus Christ. I love it!
Stanley: Would it be okay for me to come by for a visit with you this afternoon?
Me: That would be fine. I have a visit with someone else at 2:00, but you can come at 3:30 and then we can visit together. I always love visiting with people.
Stanley: Okay, I will come at 3:30 and visit you at your study.
Me: See you then!
Then we signed off and I started working again on Genesis 9. I worked on that until lunch time. After lunch, I went out for a visit with somebody from my church. They had some important questions to ask me and I did what I could to help them. That’s what I do. Ministers help people with the Bible. They do that in visits, but also in preaching on Sunday.
After my visit I came home and while I was waiting for Stanley, I picked up a new book to read. Ministers do a lot of reading. Reading helps us to know what the Bible says and how to pass on the good news! It was about 3:30 when I heard the doorbell ring.
I opened the door and there was Stanley, and was he ever flat! Miss Holtvluwer was right: he was as flat as a pancake. I felt sorry for him, but I didn’t want to make him feel bad so I didn’t mention anything about it. I invited him in.
He sat down in the nice comfy chair in my study. I said, “Well, Stanley, what can I do for you?” Stanley replied, “Well, I’m glad that you became friends with me on Facebook. But I have a problem and I was wondering if you could help me.” I looked Stanley in the eye (I always look people in the eye when we’re talking, it’s good manners) and answered, “Yes, Stanley, I’m in the business of helping people with the Bible, I’ll do whatever I can to help you.” Stanley looked sad. I really wanted to help him. “My problem,” he said, “is that I want to find a good church and I don’t know where to go. I want to find a church that tells people good news about Jesus Christ and goes by what the Bible says.”
“Stanley,” I replied, “I think I can help you with that problem. Where do you live?” “I live in those big apartment buildings on Mohawk Road in Hamilton, the ones near Harvard Square.” “That’s great!” I exclaimed. “That means that you can come to my church, the Providence Canadian Reformed Church. We would love to have you come on Sunday. At our church, we always tell people the good news about Jesus Christ. We tell people how he lived a perfect life for us and died on the cross for us. We love to read and preach the Bible! For us, the Bible is the most important book in the world.” Stanley may still have been flat, but he was excited and happy to hear this. “When can I come to visit your church?” he asked. “You can come on Sunday morning at 9:30 and we even have somebody who lives in your apartment building who can give you a ride. I’ll send him an e-mail and he’ll be able to help you come to church!”
Stanley was elated and I was glad to be able to help him. He said, “Thank you, thank you, Reverend Bredenhof, you made my day awesome!” I told him, “Stanley, I’m always here to help you if you have any questions about what the Bible says. Just let me know, send me a Facebook message, or an e-mail or a text message, whatever. I’m here to help you.” Stanley and I prayed together and then he slipped out the door sideways and disappeared. It was good to meet Stanley and I’m looking forward to seeing him at church on Sunday.