Last weekend we celebrated Global Outreach Sunday, and Pastor Connie’s sermon was a classic. Beginning with Jesus’ Great Commission, “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to everyone,” she took us on a trip across the globe to visit all the missionaries we, as a church, support in many lands and nations. Then she brought us back home and told us that the Great Commission isn’t just for missionaries. Jesus has called us to be a “GO Church” (GO=Global Outreach, get it?) right here in our community.

On Monday morning, I was thinking about this in my office, and a little song from my youthful church experience came to my mind. I don’t think I’ve heard it in more than fifty years, but I found that I could still sing the chorus and one verse word-for-word. I had to do quite a search on line, but I finally found both the lyrics and a video of an extended family singing it at their reunion.

Just then Bill Zobrist came into my office. I told him about the old song I was rediscovering, and he asked, “How does it go?” I sang just the first phrase of the chorus when he joined in, singing the chorus and two verses. He had learned it as a boy when he was going to school in West Africa, where his parents were missionaries. We bonded over this shared memory.

So here’s the chorus:

God will not compel us to go. No! No!
He never compels us to go.
He will not compel us to go ‘gainst our will
But he just makes us willing to go.

This has become known as “The Hornet Song” because of how the first verse explains the message of the above chorus:

When the Canaanites hardened their hearts against God
And grieved Him because of their sin,
God sent along hornets to bring them in line
And help His own people to win.
The hornets persuaded them that it was best,
To go quickly, and not to go slow;
God did not compel them to go ‘gainst their will,
But He just made them willing to go. (Based on Exodus 23:28, KJV)

The other verses of the song reflect on similar Bible stories in which God found a way to make resistant people willing to go: sending the ten plagues to persuade the Egyptian Pharaoh to liberate the Israelites (Exodus 7 to 11), speaking through his donkey when the rebellious prophet Balaam refused to listen to him (Numbers 22:21-38), having a big fish swallow Jonah when he was refusing to bring God’s message to the King of the Assyrians (Book of Jonah). It’s an interesting irony that, in all these illustrations, God used animals and plants (lesser creatures) to force humans into humble submission.

I’ve recently heard some buzzing around ABC. Could it be hornets? Is God trying to get our attention?

Yesterday I was working with grandson Sean on some chemistry homework. One section was about understanding the difference between an endothermic reaction and an exothermic reaction.

Melting ice by heating it in a pan is endothermic – energy has to be added (through the fire on the stove) to make it happen. Endo means energy in. If I’m warming my hands by a campfire, I’m benefiting from an exothermic reaction, the burning of the fuel. Exo means energy out.

I’ve been around endothermic churches – constant energy in. It takes a lot of effort just to keep it alive another week, and it still feels like melting ice cubes. I want ABC to be an exothermic church, where the combination of spiritual energies among the members results in a constant outflow of energy to neighbors, and friends, and the community, and the world. People around us know they can warm their hands just by being close.

I want ABC to be a GO Church, without the need for hornets.

— Pastor George Van Alstine