Monday, February 2, 2009


There is a chainsaw on the floor of a Sunday school class, and no one has said a thing about it. Several young students meet there to learn about Old Testament heroes. The Remington Pole Saw lay against the far wall, dripping oil onto a hunter green table cloth.

Back in November our church hosted a bonfire. We had three stacks of pallets left over from a previous burning. The pallets were too long and heavy to toss onto the fire; I brought the chainsaw to cut them.

After the festivities I was unable to transport the tool home. The pole prohibited me from loading it in the trunk, and my daughters were in the back seat. I wouldn't risk dismembering their precious little legs and fingers. So I stored the chainsaw in the classroom, intending to retrieve it another day.

That was three months ago. Many Sundays have passed, many lessons taught, and the pole saw remains in the same location. Motionless. Unplugged. Dripping oil.

I assume no one has noticed because no one has said anything. At some point I thought I might hear an astute congregant ask, "Hey, why is there a chainsaw in the Sunday school room?"

Or: "Who left a chainsaw in there?"

Maybe: "Is anyone going to move that chainsaw?"

Even a joke about me using it for a sermon illustration was expected: "If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off... with this Remington Pole Saw."

Every time I see the thing I feel ashamed. Who lets a chainsaw sit in a church classroom unattended? And why hasn't anyway addressed it?

Perhaps it's because, on a given Sunday, many of us don't really observe our surroundings. We don't come to look through open doors and spy out far corners. We just come and sit. Motionless. Unplugged. Dripping oil.

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