Church is often a place of unexpected entertainment. I’ve belonged to the same congregation for over thirty years and I know this. Here are a few of my more vivid memories.
It was my turn to take care of the altar. I was there a good hour before service and grabbed the two large vases of flowers from downstairs. These flowers are always gorgeous, full, and fragrant. I bustled up the stairs and met a couple of fellow choir members there early for practice. I had a vase in each hand and as I greeted my friends and blabbered away, I failed to notice the water basin pastor had placed on a small table dead in the center of the aisle I was just about to walk down. As I plowed forward, flowers blocking my view, still blathering away, I was suddenly brought up short when Kaboom! I slammed into the table with the full water bowl. Holy Niagara, Batman! At first my mind refused to grasp what I’d just done, but thank God I kept a grip on those flowers. What a mess that would have been. Pedals and puddles everywhere. My friends rushed to my aid and we had the water cleaned up in jig time. Yeesh. You don't catch me trying to walk, talk, and carry flowers anymore.
Then there was the time Blaine, #2 son, was acolyte. He was a young teen and I was so pleased that he’d be walking down the aisle to light the candles. But we sat there and waited and waited and waited. Finally, from way in the back, came his flat almost- man voice, “Has anybody got a match?” I turned and there he stood, taper in hand, and no fire. An usher dashed forward, snicked the striker on his match book, and away Blaine went.
This was in direct contrast to another young acolyte who had too much fire. If you’ve ever seen one of these tapers, you know the wick is very long, encased in a brass tube kind of thing you can push up from the bottom as needed. Well, somebody did a little too much pushing this Sunday, and as Tom began his walk we all gasped. The flame hanging from the end of the taper looked like a dragon’s tongue darting about as he swayed towards the altar. The congregation’s collective breath held as we watched this fiery display. I think there was even a small cadre of young boys a few pews back cheering him on. It turned out okay and most of us were very relieved that nobody’s hair caught fire. Whew!
Another time an elderly gentleman, at the communion rail, decided that maybe the wafer wasn’t as tasty as it should have been so he flung it back into the chalice full of wine.With gusto. Poor guy. He wanted wheat not rye, I guess.
Sometimes the little ones join in a hymn, which is delightful. And one little girl, upon seeing the deacon up front instead of the pastor, asked her mother why God “wasn’t here today”. On occasion our organist, Ted, will drop a book on the organ and give us all a start. No nodding off allowed. You might miss something.
Church is a great place for lots of things and funny isn’t something that comes to mind right away when you think of it. But it’s there because humans are there. The pews are full of humor and heartache, caring and worry. There’s also the occasional gnashing of teeth. But the truth of it is, Jesus is right there with us working it out. I love that.
It’s a wonderful thing.