Felicia went back and bent over her mother. The kiss was almost as strange to her as the prayer had been. When Felicia went out of the room her cheeks were wet with tears. She had not often cried since she was a little child.
Sunday morning at the Sterling mansion was generally very quiet. The girls usually went to church at eleven o’clock service. Mr. Sterling was not a member but a heavy contributor, and he generally went to church in the morning. This time he did not come down to breakfast, and finally sent word by a servant that he did not feel well enough to go out. So Rose and Felicia drove up to the door of the Nazareth Avenue Church and entered the family pew alone.
When Dr. Bruce walked out of the room at the rear of the platform and went up to the pulpit to open the Bible as his custom was, those who knew him best did not detect anything unusual in his manner or his expression. He proceeded with the service as usual. He was calm and his voice was steady and firm. His prayer was the first intimation the people had of anything new or strange in the service. It is safe to say that the Nazareth Avenue Church had not heard Dr. Bruce offer such a prayer before during the twelve years he had been pastor there. How would a minister be likely to pray who had come out of a revolution in Christian feeling that had completely changed his definition of what was meant by following Jesus? No one in Nazareth Avenue Church had any idea that the Rev. Calvin Bruce, D. D., the dignified, cultured, refined Doctor of Divinity, had within a few days been crying like a little child on his knees, asking for strength and courage and Christlikeness to speak his Sunday message; and yet the prayer was an unconscious involuntary disclosure of his soul’s experience such as the Nazareth Avenue people had seldom heard, and never before from that pulpit.
“I am just back from a visit to Raymond,” Dr. Bruce began, “and I want to tell you something of my impressions of the movement there.”
He paused and his look went out over his people with yearning for them and at the same time with a great uncertainty at his heart. How many of his rich, fashionable, refined, luxury-loving members would understand the nature of the appeal he was soon to make to them? He was altogether in the dark as to that. Nevertheless he had been through his desert, and had come out of it ready to suffer. He went on now after that brief pause and told them the story of his stay in Raymond. The people already knew something of that experiment in the First Church. The whole country had watched the progress of the pledge as it had become history in so many lives. Mr. Maxwell had at last decided that the time had come to seek the fellowship of other churches throughout the country. The new discipleship in Raymond had proved to be so valuable in its results