However, when it’s a small town or area and the church is also fairly small — everyone knows everyone else. When that’s the case and someone you know pretty well, it gets the tickle box upside down enough to disrupt services a bit. That statement extends to another place where solemnity and reverence are expected — a funeral home.
One of my cousins told me of sitting with my young great- niece at visitation prior to my mom’s funeral.
The young niece asked the cousin how old she was and my cousin replied, “I’m 65.” To which the niece said: “Well, it won’t be long now.”
At the “children’s moment” in church services, a time when small children come to the front of the sanctuary and sit with the pastor as he tells them a biblical story, a young girl was told by the preacher: “My, that’s a very pretty dress you’re wearing.” The girl’s response: “Yeah, but my mother says it’s a b---h to iron.”
MY YOUNGEST brother tells of a service he attended in which a young boy was baptized by the elderly minister who then sent the boy out the wrong side of the baptistery to the girls’ dressing area. Momentarily, as the congregation was singing (giving every baptismal celebrant time to dress and rejoin the services), here came the young boy doing the Australian crawl in a swimming attempt to get back to the male side of the baptistry.
In yet another baptismal tale, one of this small town’s “big-time” sinners, a man who was said to daily consume large amounts of whiskey, was convinced by the pastor to give up the booze, confess his sins and join the church.
DURING THE baptism, the recalcitrant booze hound was dunked and came up with such force that the wide sleeves of the baptismal gown scooped up voluminous amounts of water and dumped them on the choir’s alto section in sort of a re-baptism for those women of the church.
In both cases, some members of the back-row-cool-teen-bunch had to dash out of the services, unable to stifle the understandable urge to guffaw loudly at the turn of events.
Some stories cannot be substantiated, but take on the cloak of “joke” as they are repeated through the years.
One such tale deals with a preacher’s condemning sermon on the evils of consuming alcohol. You don’t hear quite as much of that any more since the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission established a later opening time on Sundays for establishments selling booze. It has long been said that the rule was written so as to give deacons an even Sabbath day start with all the other drinkers.
Another deals with a “seasoned” sinner who had a propensity for profanity, but was convinced to renounce his misbegotten life and join the church.
In an emotional, revivalist-inspired type of profession of faith, the pastor asked: “Who has blessed you with new life?” To which, the new church member replied emphatically: “The Lord did!”
Pastor: “Who washed away your sins?”
New member, with increased intensity: “The Lord did!”
Pastor: “And, what did Satan ever do for you?”
New member, shouting: “Nothing! ?@#* him!”
ANOTHER SUNDAY “legend” involves a baptism in which the pastor is “dunking” a new confessor to the faith.
The pastor immerses the novitiate and seems to hold him under a little longer than usual, and upon lifting the just-baptized new member from under the water, asks: “Do you believe?”
New member: “Yes.”
Pastor: “What do you believe?”
New member: “I believe you’re trying to drown me.
It’s great to live in a country and atmosphere where we can worship as we see fit. And, it’s wonderful that God has a sense of humor?
Willis Webb is a retired community newspaper editor-publisher of more than 50 years experience. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.