Sunday, September 24, 2006

Sunday Afternoon Thoughts

Allow me to ramble...

Today's worship was a blessing. I did a special class (part one of two) on women in ministry and worship and survived without needing Kevlar or 2nd Marine backup. At the end of my sermon in the third AM service, named Mosaic, I called up a man who has been attending for months now, Kenn Urban, and introduced him to the assembly. He told me last week that he wanted to be baptized today. Several family members came to witness the baptism. We brought them up to the stage so that they could be within feet of him. The whole assembly stood and applauded enthusiastically as Kenn entered the Kingdom. Outstanding.

This last week has seen me in Brownwood, Texas and then at the Round Lake encampment in Ohio. I've always loved Texas even though I've only spoken at two events there. The family seminar went well and the people were wonderful. I was most impressed with two things: on a chilly (for Texas) Tuesday morning, 7AM, fifty or so young men came out to eat breakfast and hear a message from me before they went to work. That's a good crowd! The other most impressive thing? The love they have for the prisoners they serve in the local jail. They hold several classes for them weekly and stay in touch after they are released. The minister told me that in the drug dealing part of town everyone shouts out a greeting to him when they see him. That's cool. That's ministry.

At Round Lake, I wasn't sure what to expect. The church in Marion, Ohio runs the event and they are a wonderful group of Christians. Their minister, Russell Howard, has a booming voice and a personality to match. He is a gracious and kind servant of the Lord. Of course, anytime you try to do something good there will be those who attack so he had to endure barbs and bans after inviting me and a couple of other speakers for the weekend. I volunteered to withdraw but he wouldn't hear of it. The event was uplifting, situated in the great outdoors, full of fellowship, singing and some very solid teaching. Thanks, Russ and the Marion church.

As cool weather enters Michigan, I find myself growing wistful, missing those who have gone on before. I usually deal with these morbid, melancholy thoughts by turning to humor and one of my favorite forms of humor is what I call "granddad stories." They aren't true, mostly, but I like them. You might have heard one or two of these before.

I loved my grandfather. I played with him every week. Technically, he was dead, but my parents had him cremated and put his ashes in my Etch-A-Sketch.

Okay, okay... he IS dead and we DID cremate him. In fact, we think that might have been what did it.

Grandad was a tough man. He told us that he got that way by putting a teaspoonful of gunpowder on his porridge (oatmeal to you colonists) every morning. It must have worked. When he died he left four kids, twelve grandkids, fifteen great-grandkids and a twenty foot hole in the wall of the crematorium.

My other grandfather died in a tragic accident. He worked in a distillery and drowned in a vat of whiskey. We took some solace in the brave way he fought off the rescue squad for the entire day. Unfortunately, when we tried to collect insurance, the company wouldn't pay since he'd had the good grace to get out twice to go to the bathroom. When we cremated him it took a week to put out the flames.

I remember the last time I visited my grandmother (I had to go up to the attic anyway). Shortly afterward she collapsed. The doctor told us that her heart was still beating but her brain was dead. I started crying because it was the first time we'd had a Democrat in the family.

True story: my grandfather -- who would have voted for Hitler if he'd run as a Democrat -- told me that a Democrat had stolen some tools from his barn. I asked him how he knew the thief was a Democrat and he said, "If it'd been a Republican he would have taken the whole barn."

I can remember the joy of the first snow of the year. I would run to the door and bang on it, saying, "You remember the deal, you have to let me in now!"

Christmas was always a bummer. Dad said Santa Claus couldn't come to our house because we lived in a Crips neighborhood and Santa wore red. Just kidding. He'd really just go into the front yard on Christmas Eve and let off a shotgun, then come in the house and tell us Santa committed suicide so there'd be no presents this year. One year he gave my sister a box of broken glass and me a box of bandages and said, "Now you kids share."

My grandfather held a traditional Thanksgiving dinner a few years ago. He invited all his neighbors over, fed them a big meal, then killed them and took their land. Ah, memories.

Gotta quit, now. I have to go out to the garage and fix the lock on my car. I had two tickets to the Detroit Lions in there. Someone broke in and left three more tickets. Sigh....


  • At 9/24/2006 07:15:00 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    "My grandfather held a traditional Thanksgiving dinner a few years ago. He invited all his neighbors over, fed them a big meal, then killed them and took their land. Ah, memories."

    I always wondered if nowadays immigrants should keep this tradition with local population.
    After all, I can use some free land, you know... :-)

  • At 9/24/2006 08:24:00 PM , Blogger Stoogelover said...

    My grandfather, a staunch Republican and John Birch Society member, said close to his death that he wanted to change his political status to Democrat. His reason: If someone has to die, better a Democrat than a Republican.

  • At 9/25/2006 05:30:00 AM , Anonymous Christopher Gallagher (aka - Gallagher) said...


    Once again, your weird, twisted sense of humor has had me laughing out loud.

    I can't wait to hear your lesson when it is posted.


  • At 9/25/2006 06:01:00 AM , Blogger KentF said...

    Patrick - let me know next time you're in Texas - I'll try to make anything within 6 hours. True story - Russell Howard came to speak to my congregation - about 400 of us - 2 minutes into the sermon the sound guy turned his mike OFF - and he was still loud. Wow - to have vocal chords like that.

  • At 9/25/2006 06:31:00 AM , Anonymous Danny Gill said...

    Patrick, you're going to make a lot of Democrats mad at you. Of course, since the Republicans have all the guns, there's not a lot they can do about it . . .

    The Thanksgiving line hits just a wee bit too close to home. It will probably go over big when we go out to the Navajo Nation on our church camp mission this summer.

  • At 9/25/2006 09:44:00 AM , Anonymous Jeff Slater said...

    I heard good things about the Round Lake Retreat -- I wish I could have been there.

    But the family and I had a good time at the Henry Ford Museum, and a great visit with some close friends.

    Hopefully I can catch you the next time you're in this area.

  • At 9/26/2006 08:57:00 AM , Anonymous Mike said...

    Thanks for the humor, the honesty and the unity. Here's one who thinks your voice should be heard, not silenced.

    I quit listening to country music - now the farm isn't going bankrupt, I stopped hanging out in bars and getting drunk, mom got out of prison and my first wife came back home - and the second, third and fourth.

  • At 9/26/2006 01:53:00 PM , Blogger ark_keeper said...

    You should go on Last Comic Standing or something. Seriously. Hilarious.

  • At 9/26/2006 10:05:00 PM , Blogger JD said...

    Great humor! We need to laugh more often. Thanks!

  • At 9/29/2006 11:11:00 AM , Blogger Paula Harrington said...

    The Etch-a-Sketch part cracked me up! So funny!

  • At 10/10/2006 11:13:00 PM , Blogger laura bull said...

    If i am right, you're talking about the Austin Avenue Church in Brownwood (our sending congregation as overseas missionaries) and i couldn't agree more... they are quite an amazing group of people who we dearly love and are so glad that you all were able to enjoy each other for your time there. God bless you!


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