My preaching next Sunday on John 15: I am the true vine brought back to mind an incident when I visited Oradea to preach in its famous Baptist church. My father accompanied me. In his mid-70s he had mastered the Romanian language sufficiently to be able to preach and at the packed morning service he first gave a greeting.
Because I needed an interpreter I had decided to bring along a visual aid. I cut out, painted and glued together a lengthy vine with many branches. Folding it carefully I carried it safely in my suitcase. On the Sunday morning I was relieved to find it all still in one piece. Going up onto the platform with my father (and several other leaders in black suits) I gently placed the folded vine under my chair. In the hymn before I preached I reached down and placed it on the seat so that it would be easily accessible when I spoke from the podium.
Moving to the front with the interpreter I began to preach, setting the scene with opening sentences and adjusting to the interpreter (and he with me!) Early on I turned round to reach for my prized visual aid. To my shock, in the hymn all the platform party had shifted along one chair and my father was sitting firmly upon my vine. I could see a branch hanging down the side. Swiftly, I realized the complications of trying to rescue it would create far more commotion than could possible be warranted. So I ploughed on without it.
Afterwards my father said: 'I thought you were going to use some visual aid, son'. 'Well, yes Dad, but you were sitting on it!' 'Was I?' he said, with genuine astonishment.