Seventeen. Not eighteen or sixteen. Seventeen souls gathered…to share…about their journey. About what it meant to be in a family who was in a circus—not a metaphor, but real life. The man, now retired, said he was a “catcher.” Of course, I asked him about pitchers he caught. I was off. He was a catcher in a circus and his father, then his brother was “the flyer.” The new friend showed me how he made sure he caught his father or brother [of course, not both at once!].
He held my arm with a grip that was firm and sure. And I thought to myself, “What a special guy this is, to not just talk, but to reach out and help me understand. Wow, what a great lesson for each of us…in our living…whether we fly or catch…to never forget or neglect the ‘catch hold.’”
Then Marilyn the pianist. I loved it. Didn’t tell her my sister’s name was Marilyn…and my sister died recently. I simply said how much I appreciated the name, Marilyn, my sister’s name. I more than appreciated her “up and alive” accompanying our hymns. Told her how nice it was the hymn pace wasn’t glacial flow speed.
Then. It was spontaneous, I hadn’t prepped Marilyn, I was speaking of an example of showing gratitude in the airport. You’re read this before, to ask a “scowl-face” security agent if anyone said hello and thank-you to her? In the moment, I asked Marilyn, who was in the first pew, “Marilyn, let’s play this out. Do you know how to scowl?”
Oh my, a camera would have been fantastic. She scowled like she just heard tomorrow won’t happen. We then went through the drill and she said, “NO ONE ever appreciates me!” When I changed that face, the congregation nodded…they didn’t shake their head. Marilyn went from scowl to smile…we all got it.
Such a day…to show up at 10 a.m. for the coffee kvetching, for the “learn the church’s history,” and then, to worship.
There were seventeen attending. After the service, they didn’t leave…they visited—with each other…and with this new preacher guy.
Long time…long time since I’ve had the privilege and joy to be with such wonderful people. They even told me where not to get BBQ on my way back to Austin and one of them said, “Preacher, I’m taking you to lunch after worship next Sunday…to a real eatin’ place!”
Oops. Sure hope next Sunday’s sermon is helpful. I won’t bother Marilyn, but maybe I’ll recruit Jim…about being in a circus and the importance of the “catch hold.”
And. I may have a couple cans of smoked salmon up my sleeve. Never know, boys and girls. Never know.