Thursday, April 27, 2006
Changing church light bulbs is enlightening...
Hardly a week passes by that I do not change light bulbs around our church. Today there were quite a few that needed changing, so I made a morning of it. I calculate that there are roughly 200 light bulbs in our church, so odds are one is going to burn out every so often.
I have never minded performing such odd jobs around the church, for a famous preacher of one of the nation’s most prestigious churches told me that early in his career, he carried in coal and stoked the fires before the services he led in the rural areas of Wales. “You had better be ready to set up chairs and move tables, no matter how big or important you get,” said this minister.
For me, I think the idea of doing tasks around the church was fixed by an incident that forms one of my very earliest church memories. I could not have been more than three. One Sunday before Sunday school, our minister at Cleveland phoned my daddy and summoned his help to get an owl out of the sanctuary.
Somehow I was allowed to go along and sure enough, there was the gray feathered creature perched on one of the chandeliers. Never did a small boy witness a funnier sight than our dignified minister and my daddy standing on the pews, waving brooms in the air, and yelling to make that poor owl leave the Presbyterian Church.
I am not sure why Dr. Bolling called Daddy, except that he was probably the most able-bodied church member who lived near the church. Anyway, the owl flew away and services went on in their usual tranquility. But I found it fascinating to go up to the church when it was not full of people, and I still do.
Our church has a huge umbrella collection from people bringing them when rain was threatened, and then when the rain did not come, forgetting to take them home. These come in handy when storms come up by surprise, but we get far more umbrellas than we give. So I keep them. Somehow I cannot see sending them to the missionaries.
We also have an immense assortment of serving spoons, plates, cake covers and the like, left from the myriad church dinners across the years. If a young couple was not concerned that all their spoons and forks matched, I could set them up in housekeeping very nicely with the miscellany of items we have around the Presbyterian Church. Missing something? Check with me.
One lady phoned on a Sunday afternoon that she’d left her earrings at the church? “Earrings?” I asked. “Yes, two.”
“Then you did not wear earrings,” I said.
“But, I did, too,” she insisted.
I went over and checked but there were no earrings in her pew. Women have left behind one glove, one earring, and so forth for as long as such items have existed. But nobody ever leaves two. If they did, churches could go into the re-sale business and it would cut our dependence on the collection plate considerably.
One of our ushers empties his spare change into the offering plate each Sunday waiting at the back for the Doxology to be played. (He gives a nice check, too!) The change is because our treasurer hates to find odd cents in the collection. He likes for everything to come out even, and thinks it must be the pennies the small children bring! I hope our children do contribute and do not spend their Sunday school money for Coca-Colas like we sometimes did. But that extra change from the usher just to rile the treasurer must have added up to a nice amount by now. So if the treasurer reads this column, the cat is out of the bag.
I think about such things when I change the light bulbs, and it lightens the burden of my day!
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