A former Lutheran pastor sharing thoughts on faith and life. Please join the conversation! I love your comments!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Fun Through Church (I can’t believe I just said that either)

Continuing on the theme of fun, there are fun and funny moments to be had during worship.  Human nature and orneriness can bring humor even to boring church services.  As a teenager, I remember some of the most pious boys in my church joking about the ideal posture for worship:  leaning forward, elbows on your knees, forehead resting on your clasped hands.  From this position they could whisper goofy comments, talk about the movie they saw the night before, or even nap all the while appearing to be in a state of meditative prayerfulness.  You can take a kid to church, dress him up in a suit, make him give up rock and roll but you still can’t make him behave all the time.  

Once in this same church I recall an incredibly cheesy sermon about the second coming of Jesus.  We were asked to picture a stadium full of people expectantly waiting.  A hush falls over the crowd as they sense someone moving toward them.  The attention falls on this stranger moving down the center aisle.  Who could it be?  My friend whispered, “Elvis!”  This struck me as hilarious, made all the more funny because I had to try to suppress my laughter.  This was a serious sermon after all.  

The recent holidays recalled to mind another memorable service.  I was a pastor conducting a very early morning Christmas service with all the stress and exhaustion inherent in such occasions.  Suddenly one of the acolytes made a dash for the door.  Turns out she thought she was going to throw up.  A few minutes later we were all holding lit candles and singing when there was a crash.   I didn’t know what had happened, was worrying someone had had a heart attack, looking to the ushers to tell me what was going on, and trying to remain calm and composed.  It turned out a teenager had passed out from dehydration or something and was fine.  But, in my concern I leaned too far over my candle and set my hair on fire.  Just a little singe which I caught right away.  Most people didn’t even notice.  But amongst the beautiful candle light, bright poinsettias and the smell of the Christmas tree there now also lurked the smell of burning hair.  At that point I was pretty sure the service had turned from deeply moving to ...well memorable anyway.  

Communion often has amusing moments.  The solemnity of the moment, the number of people involved, elements exchanging hands all leave room for things to go wrong.  I have heard great stories from other pastors.  My favorite from my own experience was the beloved elderly couple who knelt somberly awaiting their turn to receive the bread and wine.  The woman had her eyes closed in prayer.  Hence when I gave the bread to her husband he noticed she still had her eyes closed and didn’t know I was there.  So, he elbowed her right as her eyes opened and I placed the bread in her hand.  This bumped her arm and caused her and I to do a little juggling act with the bread.  The look she gave her husband made it pretty clear any peaceful, meditative thoughts had been chased right out of her head!

One of my most precious fun memories is from a baptism.  I think the little girl being baptized was about 6 months old.  Her mom was standing next to me holding her.  As I put out my hands to hold them up during a prayer, the baby grabbed my hand and tried to put it in her mouth.  Her mom quickly pulled her away but for the rest of the prayer (some of those baptism prayers are loooong), she was trying to get a hold of my hand and fussing.  So, I gave it to her and let her suck on my fingers until it was time to baptize her.  Probably one of the more direct and affective ways I have given comfort as a pastor.  

Not all fun has to be funny.  Another really treasured moment for me was the blessing of a dog.  A girl in our congregation had been training a service dog.  She had brought the dog to worship fairly often as part of the dog’s training (getting used to crowds and such, not theological training).  When the dog was ready to set off for final learning and selection for this terribly important work, I was honored to do a blessing service.  Little touches my heart as much as the ways animals help us humans, so to bless this dog for her service was wonderful fun for me.  

What fun or funny moments have happened to you at church or church related activities?

by Sheri Ellwood

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Oh, Sheri, if people were willing to share, you'd have enough material for at least 1 book! You know well your husband's penchant for chuckling - together our family has had any number of laughter-suppressing events. From Dad sitting on the recently lit candle during a Christmas Eve service, to having the bread wafer crushed - loudly! - into his hand during communion.....I think other parishioners just got used to our family shaking the benches periodically! Then there was the time we shared special music in another church and returned to the wrong pew when we were done, or the descent of the spider on a web right above the pastor's head? Hmmm, some of these don't seem nearly as hilarious as I'm recalling and writing them out, but at the time, well.....you know - having to suppress laughter makes most anything unbelievably funny! Hope others will share ...... I think we were created to have a healthy sense of humor; after all God did design the ostrich!