If you stay around a church long enough there comes a time when the current pastor retires or moves on and a new one is sought from a crowd of wannabe enthusiasts.
It used to be a pretty simple thing to get a new one as the Denomination would just put the names in a hat and draw one out. Nowadays with the advent of technology, the nominating committee is inundated with DVD's of the candidate and can hear just exactly what they will have to endure for the next several years.
Such a time has come to our church here in South Fork. The elders have whittled the list down to three Possibles and so begins what is known as “the great tribulation.”
In the Bible, “the great tribulation” is a future time when we will be stoned and persecuted. But, any savvy church member can inform John of Patmos that it also isn’t must fun listening to visiting pastors week after week, trying to impress Ol' Dutch and the other members with their soaring (and long) sermons as a final test of worthiness for a paycheck.
Now Ol' Dutch is no stranger to long-winded preachers since his own dad has been a preacher for more than 60 years. Father Fred never let an opportunity go by to guide our lives including the daily 30 minute prayer over dinner.
I never understood why our food had to grow cold while we prayed for starving children in Africa but it did kind of spoil my appetite and thereby saved Father Fred grocery money.
One of the candidates to pastor the Chapel of South Fork was an earnest young man from Georgia. Ol' Dutch had a hard time understanding that Southern accent but recall when our present Irish pastor came to us, none of us understood him for about two years -- that alone probably secured his job here. By the time we began to understand his sermons he had grown on us and we just decided that keeping the poison you know is better than trying out new ones.
So, anyway, there I was at early choir practice which is held before sunrise Sunday mornings or about 8 a.m.. These normally sane church people somehow show up at that hour all smiling like the proverbial Cheshire Cat and I guess at their age they are just happy to find out they are still alive come morning?
That’s not the same in my household. Never let it be said that Ol' Dutch wakes up in anything but a sour mood and poor Trixie knows it takes many cups of coffee and no little span of time to even get a “good morning.”
At first Trixie was bothered by my sullen morning expressions but soon learned to appreciate the quiet time and now calls that “nirvana.” I don't know who Nirvana is but she smiles a lot when she mentions him. It better not be the guy down at the local car wash is all Dutch can say.
So, back to church. The visiting pastor Sunday finally got to the gist of the sermon and we were able to get Saul turned into Paul and on down the road to Damascus and points farther North. It was a good sermon and then the best part of church came: the coffee fellowship time which follows our service.
The ladies of the church always put on a brunch of lavish proportions and I thought for a minute Papa Bear had visited the buffet as the pans were licked clean. Anyone looking for a church home should prayerfully consider who has the best pot lucks before deciding such things.
Now Ol' Dutch has been churched his entire life and just like any other good parishioner, he knows these truths. Preachers come and preachers go and heaven is a sure promise but the food we come to depend on during our sojourn here is the most important part of the journey.
Some Bible thumping zealots would say that women should be silent in church. I say let ‘em talk all they want as how else will we know what's on the menu.