Wednesday, September 21, 2005

stranger than fiction

The church I grew up in most of my life was a haven for odd, weird and downright strange occurrences. As a child I reveled in the interesting abnormalities that made each visit as memorable as a roadside freak show. Without fail, each service was filled with actions and stories that you would probably had to have seen to believe. But, I'll attempt to describe a few.

There was an elderly lady, Mrs. Vera, who would often request prayer for television characters. And she wasn't petioning supplication for their real life situations - rather dramatic circumstances she had recently viewed on the latest episode of a particular soap opera or sit-com. Although a little misguided, I do think the antiquated little lady was sincere. I'm sure her constant prayer and support saved Luke and Laura from many a harrowing situation.

The assistant pastor at our church, Mr. Dan, also served as a children's minister of sorts. He operated junior church, Vacation Bible School and the like. Although I remember him fondly, in retrospect, some of his practices were a tad unorthodox, to say the least. One of his favorite forms of punishment for the guys consisted of inscribing their names on the chalkboard, followed by "loves Becky Buckley." So, it would read something like, "Joe loves Becky Buckley." Well, the kicker is that Becky was a local lady who was was poor, unattractive, terribly overweight and spent most of her time roaming the streets and hanging out at the local convenience store. The assistant pastor was well aware that everyone, including the second grade boys he was taunting, knew who Becky was. A few other things Mr. Dan kept up his sleeve were raw egg eating contests and a wide variety of uses for snot.

Let's not leave out several who would stand on Sunday morning and in great detail describe to the congregation how they had single handedly led someone to Christ. Usually it was a broken down truck driver, single mother or some other person in distress with which they had shared the good news. They would provide us with names, dates, places, smells and other commentary surrounding the conversion experience. Of course, everyone would clap and hoop and holler and then proceed to pray for brother or sister so-and-so who had recently discovered new life in Christ through the witness of one of our faithful members. Well, as the hours would pass and we would once again convene for the evening service, guilt would begin to set in. Usually enough guilt that the person who had testified to their mission efforts that morning, would then have to rise and admit to everyone that the story they had earlier communicated had been somewhat, ummm, falsified. They would then beg for forgiveness and the church would gather around the member to pray for their soul...only for a repeat incident to occur about two weeks later with the tale of another concocted salvation scenario.

God, help us all.

*Disclaimer: Although comical, unbelievable and sad, the above stories are true. However, the names have been changed to protect the innocent.
posted by Christie