Krispy Kreme, Motel 6 and the Church

by Rev. Randy Brown

A service of worship doesn’t just happen. There’s a lot of people that are involved from the sound people to the ushers and greeters and musicians and people doing special music. I want to take an opportunity to thank all of them. We don’t do that enough, but today I want to take an opportunity to thank someone else.

I called him this morning right before the early service and I said, “Mike, we don’t have any air in the church,” and he said, “I’m on it,” and he was. I know it was warm in the first service. It was a little warm upstairs, maybe it was a lot warm upstairs. You’re feeling some cool air as a result for his labor of love and Mike, thank you so much. We appreciate that.

Have you ever stopped to wonder and ponder and notice about how important light is? How important is light? You may think that light is not very important at all and that you can just live without light from time to time. You ever tried to drive your car at night with the lights off? It doesn’t work very well, does it?

I remember thinking that I could live kind of in semi-darkness when I was growing up, coming in on Friday or Saturday night; going through the house, the lights were mostly off especially going down to my room and through the living room and didn’t want to turn the lights on because I didn’t want to wake people up. I thought I could handle it pretty good and all of a sudden one Friday night, I came in and that was in my mind, I turned the lights off as I went, got through the living room, or going through the living room, I thought, “I know how to do this,” because I knew where all furniture was.

I did not know that that day, my mother had moved the furniture and great was the crash, and I ended up waking people up anyway. Sometimes we need light, all the time we need the light. It’s hard to get along in life without light. It’s important. We teach the children to sing. Don’t worry, I’m not going to break into song, but that song that says, “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine. Don’t let Satan blow it out. I’m gonna let it shine. Put it under a basket, no. I’m gonna let it shine.”

I remember as a youngster in this particular church, this particular congregation, this particular sanctuary visiting with my grandfather, Pops we called him, who brought me to church that Sunday. Some of you remember the Reverend W.C. Link. W.C. did a children’s sermon that morning and he had a candle. We all took turns trying to blow that candle out. We’d blow it out and it would come back. We’d blow it out and it would come back. That’s the only children’s sermon that I can still vividly remember some 50 years later. You are the light of the world. Light is important.

Let me tell you why I think light’s important. The scripture shows us it was the first thing that God called into being. Three verses into the Scripture, He says, “Let there be light and there was.” God started it all with light. How important is that? It was the first thing He called into existence. It was how He guided His children through the wilderness, a pillar of fire by night. It’s what He called Himself in John’s Gospel and He turns right around in Matthew’s Gospel and calls us the light of the world. Doesn’t that tell us that light is important at least in God’s mind?

In our society there are three, at least three, organizations that associate light with being off and on and how important it is for the light to be on. Sometimes we even use light to describe a person who maybe we don’t feel like quite gets it, and we describe them as, “The light is on but ain’t nobody home.”

The three organizations that I think especially are known for being associated with light are Krispy Kreme, Motel 6, and the Church. Dana was giving us that history lesson this morning about the song “I saw the light.” Do you know what I thought the history was? I thought Hank wrote that song when he went by Krispy Kreme and the light came on. It’s amazing how we think about that.

Several years ago I had to have a stress test done at Baptist Hospital. And they took me down this back hallway and into this little room, and there was a window there. I got on the treadmill, and I got all hooked up to everything and he said, “All right, start walking,” so I started walking, doing real good, begin to break a sweat and I looked down about 5 floors and I saw this. I said, “Doc, this ain’t fair.” He said, “Keep walking.”

You know what made it worse? About a minute later the red light came on and I thought, “That’s just not right.” Krispy Kreme is known that if the light’s on, you better stop, because they’re coming out fresh and even the aroma can send you into a diabetic shock. Krispy Kreme is known for having the light on.

A friend of mine went by Krispy Kreme not long ago and then I’ll get off Krispy Kreme and we’ll eat together in a little bit, but at least it wasn’t the early service. When he drives by and the light’s on, he says it’s God’s will. He’s been known to sit there for 30 minutes waiting for the light to come on, so God’s will would be revealed to him.

One night, he pulled in and the light wasn’t on, but he went in anyway and lo and behold the fresh new batch was just coming out. He said to the little girl behind the counter, “Why don’t you turn the light on?” She said, “I never turn the light on. You turn the light on and you get busy. The parking lot gets full and everybody comes in here and I can’t get anything done.” Well, Krispy Kreme wasn’t the only place the light wasn’t on that night. It’s probably in her head that it wasn’t on. “When the light’s off, nobody comes in to bother me,” she said.

I just wonder how many times that might be a parable of your life and my life. If we’re not letting our light shine, nobody’s going to bother us, but if we let our light shine, perhaps somebody’s going to say, “You know, there’s something different about you,” or if we let our light shine, somebody’s going to say, “Can you help me?” If we let our light shine, people are going to come to us.

Now, light is defined as the symbol of radiance. It is defined as the influence of openness and honesty. There’s two kinds of folks: Folks that are letting their light shine, they’re peppy, they’re excited, they’re radiant, they’re glowing in their walk and they attract folks. The other folks are kind of like the director of the Titanic and nobody wants to be around them. What kind of light are you shining? What kind of light are you drawn to?

We can shine for Him. We can radiate for Him. It’s kind of what Robin was talking about in the children’s sermon a moment. Are we plugged into the source? In order for that star light to shine, it has to be close to a source of light for a length of time before it shines. We have to be near the source of light ourselves because we can’t give what we don’t have.

Now, another organization that talks about light is Motel 6. They’ll leave the what on for you? The light. I think that’s a good advertisement for the church as well. We’ll leave the light on for you. A place of safety, a place of warmth, a place to belong like Matt was talking about, a place where you feel at home, a place where like the old television show where everybody knows your name. That’s leaving the light on.

Matthew 25 tells us the story of Jesus. It was told about the ten virgins who were waiting for the bridegroom to come and that was a common practice in that day. He tells the story that ten of the bridesmaids were there: five were wise and five were unwise. The five that were wise had the lamp and the oil and it was shining bright. The other five had the lamp and the oils and theirs were shining but they soon ran out and so they had to go get more oil.

You say, “Well, maybe the people that had the oil should’ve let the other people borrow it.” There’s some things you can’t give away. Some things you have to do for yourself. That’s the lesson in that parable because we never know when the bridegroom’s coming. The groom was delayed and the foolish bridesmaids had to leave and when they came back it was too late.

How we shine is important. How are we to shine? Well, we shine and it’s got to be real. It can’t be manufactured, because you’d know the difference. We shine constantly, consistently and continually, but it’s not always convenient – not always convenient to shine.

Don Morris was here at the early service; Don and Lee, some of you know them. We were talking about a professor we had at Candler named Ken Callahan. Dr. Callahan ever so often would say, “Let me tell you what my prayer is for you.” He was talking to all these young seminary students. He said, “My prayer for you is that your phone will ring between 2 and 3 o’clock in the morning about three times a week, because if it does that, then people are going to know that you have the light of Christ shining in you. They’re going to know that Christ shines in you and through you and that they can count on you in time of trouble and need.”

Every time my phone rings at that time, I think of Dr. Callahan and his prayer was answered many, many times. We always have an opportunity to shine. We can shine with a smile. We can shine with a “thank you,” a kind word, a word of hope, a “that a-boy” or “that a-girl.” We can shine by being a friend to someone accused of something. We can shine by standing up for someone in need. We can shine when a coworker is in trouble. There’s always an opportunity with a neighbor. We can go into the schools, into the prisons, after school, English is second language, a lonely person.

You say, “Well, preacher, that’s not my style.” Well, it’s not about a matter of style for Jesus said, “You’re either for me or against me.” It’s not a matter of style. The thing that lets our light shine, the easy way to do this, it’s very simple. I could make it hard for you but it’s very simple. Find where there is some darkness and aim your light in that direction. It’s as easy as that. Find where there’s some darkness in your world and aim the light of Christ in that direction. Find your light and let it shine.

The little girl in Krispy Kreme had the wrong approach. She didn’t want to be bothered. The church should always adopt the Motel 6 approach that the lights are on and they’re on intentionally.

I read recently about a lady who lives in an inner-city neighborhood, not a good neighborhood at all. Her ministry is kind of strange, never heard about it before but right before dark on several evenings a week, she’ll get her purse and she’ll walk the street, 4 or 5 blocks. And from time to time, somebody will come along and try to snatch her purse away from her and run off with it, but that’s not the last word.

When they get to where they’re going with her purse, they open that purse up and there’s a note inside of it and there’s a $10 bill. The note simply reads, “I take it from your action, you needed some money. Here’s $10. If you need some other help, my church would love to help you,” and also on the note are the phone number and the worship times of the church.

There’s no telling how many people that lady has touched just by her being willing to do some unique ministry. There are as many unique opportunities for ministry as there are people in this room this morning. Find where there’s darkness that you’re aware of and aim your light there. Why? So that they may glorify your Father, whose in heaven.

We’re not to hide our light. We’re not to cover it up. We’re not to blow it out. There are individual opportunities and congregational opportunities. We do it consistently. We do it continually, not always when it’s convenient, but we do in season and out of season as the writer of 2nd Timothy talks about.

Let me close with this: There was a town drunk. Everybody knew him. He had a good friend named John. John would take care of him every time this guy would partake of too much. This guy, John, would take home, clean him up. John kept saying to him, “You ought to go to church with me.” He never would go. He promised to go and wouldn’t go. He’d promise.

Finally, they were having revival at the church. John said, “Will you go with me? Please go with me this week.” He said, “I will,” and John went to get him and again he had given into the temptation of alcohol. John got him sobered up just a little bit. John put good clothes on him and took him to church. He slept through most of the preacher’s sermon, but when the service was getting their conclusion, they gave the alter call and the old town drunk, to everybody’s amazement, walked up the center aisle, knelt at the chancellor.

Do you know what he told the preacher? He said, “I want to be like John.” The preacher said, “You don’t want to be like John. You want to be like Jesus.” He said, “Is Jesus anything like John?” He said, “Because if Jesus is like John, then I want to be like Jesus,” and the man gave his heart to Christ.

Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and what? Glorify your Father who is in heaven. Now friends, that’s what the book says and the book never lies.