Lesson on Oneness

My time spent as a missionary in the mountains of East Tennessee were very memorable.  It was an area that seemed separated from the rest of the world.  The people were terrific but very content with letting life continue as it always had been.  Change seemed, way beyond the scope of their reality. 

Part of my job was to visit the different churches in the area and speak about the project I was assigned to perform.  I tried to enlist churches to support both financially and physically the effort in the area.  So like a good politician I glad handed my way through the community overlooking the obvious differences.

There was this one church I was asked to attend that emblazoned a memory in my small mind.  This church was further away from town than most, past the railroad tracks and limited on its visits from outsiders.

As I walked into the church my focus was drawn to the object in the front of the church.  I had never before nor since seen anything like this.  I approached to determine it was what my mind told me.  A recliner.  It was an over sized recliner somewhat worn but sitting there in all its glory.  It took a period of time to accept in my mind this chair sitting there and eventually I moved on.

I went to sit in a pew only to be told I was sitting on the wrong side.  Again, I slowed down my emotions to listen to what was being told to me.  I was kindly told that the men sit on the other side as this one was for the women.  I tried to suppress my laugh as I thought they couldn’t be serious.  They were.  So I moved to the other side.  My mind told me I was in for quite a show today.

As the men settled on their side and the woman settled on there respective side a hush began to take over the sanctuary.  Almost as if on cue, the doors to the church burst open.  Sometimes life writes a better script than anything conceivable in the mind.  The sunlight burst forth through the suddenly opened doors.  It was extremely bright and an image appeared in the midst of this explosion.  Before I could see clearly this person, I heard him.  The breathing was so loud and so labored…almost like a creature in a horror movie.  Then one of the largest men I have ever seen began to shuffle in.  He had on overalls that contained a tee shirt that was two sizes too small and his feet where barely kept in a pair of worn out slippers.  I watched in amazement as he slowly made his way to the front of the church.

When he got to the chair found in the front he adjusted himself in an ungracious manner then dropped into the recliner.  It made a loud popping sound followed by a slow squeal as air was rudely forced out of the seat.  I sat there in shocked silence.  As the preacher moved to the pulpit I heard another unfamiliar noise and watched as the giant put his feet up and laid the chair all the way back.  My inside were screaming needing to release the hounds of laughter I tried to hold back.  I began to taste blood from my lip as I bit down trying to distract my thoughts.

This is beautiful…I am in the middle of something completely out of the ordinary.  It is in moments like these we understand life is found in the oddities of existence versus the ordinary.  I wonder if God was giggling ever so slightly as this unfolded.

I heard my name being called, yet my mind was elsewhere, when I snapped out of my moment the preacher was calling for me to open the service in prayer.  Finally, a moment of sanity…or so I thought.

As I began to speak I think I got out “Dear Lord, We” and then there was an explosion of voices shouting from every part of the church.  As I peeked to see what this commotion was I noted people were running around praying in what seemed like loud screams.  I stood in shock and considering what had happened already this was saying a lot.  I watched as these men and women tried to outshout each other and see who could last the longest.  It came down to two older men both who were starting to repeat themselves as new ideas and needs were running out quickly.  At last we had a winner, and when he finally said “Amen” he was so horse he could hardly be understood.  I shook my head and walked back to my seat as the preacher thanked me for my prayer.  HA…now that was funny.

Probably this story should conclude here as this is enough and your getting tired of reading my meanderings.  But you MUST hear about the preacher.

He began his message sounding raspy as a close runner up in the prayer derby earlier.  He was an “AHA” preacher.  For those not familiar with this style, it involves speaking (yelling) both while inhaling and exhaling.  This technique doesn’t let a single breath get wasted in the service of the Lord.  Which sounds terribly spiritual but in actuality is quite scary to listen to. 

The pastor got himself so worked up at one point he spit into the third row.  Fortunately it was the men’s side and no women were harmed in this act of worship.  Then it happened.  While yelling through an exhale he blew the largest booger I’ve have the bad fortune of seeing with my own eyes.  This booger grabbed his bushy mustache like it was holding on for its dear life.  Now boogers are never something to focus on and polite society allows one to wipe away such an exposure.  He had no need.  He just went on flailing about slapping his face each time he jerked suddenly to make a point.  Finally it dropped onto the pulpit and just sat there.  After what seemed like forever he reached over and grabbed that green goblin and wiped it on his pants. 

He finally ran out of inspiration and sat down in a weary heap.  I wanted to stand up and shout while clapping loudly.  This was great…this was fantastic.  Thank you..Bravo! Encore! This would surely be a church service I would never forget.

As I left the church there was a line greeting the pastor on the way out.  He went to shake my hand but I would have no part of that.  I gave him the biggest hug imaginable.  “Terrific”,  I told him as I skipped away in delight.

Probably to them I seemed weird and to me they seemed nuts.  I’m so glad there is room in God’s kingdom for us all.

AMEN.

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