In Sunday's congregation we were delighted to have three regulars in wheelchairs - young people who are severely disabled but who love God and revel in participating in worship. Russell is a loud and most frequent interrupter. His favourite question is: 'What's happening now?' And you never quite know when he might agree or disagree with the preacher.
In Sunday's service I made the mistake of asking a question. Preaching about Jesus as friend I commented how revolutionary is the thought that Jesus could be your friend. 'Can Jesus be your friend?', I asked. With a loud voice Russell shouted out 'No!' His friend in a wheelchair went into hysterics of laughter which so wracked her body that her carer had to spend considerable time quieting her down. Of course, the congregation rocked with laughter too. It was extraordinary standing at the front and seeing the whole sermon begin to unravel with the wrong answer.
One advantage of preaching without notes is that when you preach out of heart and mind, having internalized sermon material, there is greater freedom to respond. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, the famous preacher at Westminster Chapel, used to speak of the 'divine interchange' between preacher and hearers. As laughter died down I said: 'You're right Russell. That's exactly what most people who are going past this church right now would say! No. Jesus cannot be my friend!. Hopefully, this may have reinforced the point.
I wanted to check the exact interjection from the church recording but it has not been posted on the church web site. Perhaps it was too sabotaged to go public? Oh, the joys of preaching!