Pastor Mark’s eNote – Christians Are Funny People

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        Christians are funny people.
There’s the gossipy, judgmental, prim and proper sort (“Interesting dress Mrs. Gant is wearing!” “I guess her teenage daughter got tired of it.” “You know, I hear that she and her husband are having problems.” “Hardly a surprise.” “We’ll have to pray for them.” “Yes, let’s.”)
There are the Christian conservatives who believe God is a Tea Partier and the airy liberals who believe … well, they believe something; we’re just not sure what. There are the social elite for whom the church is one more club with a very exclusive membership (“Excuse me, you do know that is Mrs. Wildebanks’ seat you’re in, don’t you? … Well, you know now.”).
And, of course, there is the classic nerdy, bookish preacher who comes to town straight from seminary without a clue about anything. Much eye-rolling among the faithful follows until he meets a beautiful woman, who draws him out, marries him and … Wait, that’s my story.
You get the point. There are all kinds of Christian stereotypes, clichés, and caricatures. Christians are funny people.
Emma Starks was a member of the church I served when my boys were mere toddlers. She was a widow, quiet, unassuming. She lived alone and couldn’t drive, so everybody watched out for her (“Who’s picking up Emma?”). She also had a habit of calling our house at the most inopportune times—bath time, bedtime, or pitching-a-fit-just-because-I-feel-like-it time. As she talked to me on the phone, she was completely oblivious to the high-pitched wailing and screaming in the background (and that was just Kathy). But then, without fail, when one of our birthdays rolled around or our wedding anniversary or a holiday, there was a card in the mail from Emma. I thought it was because we were the “parsonage family,” but I found out she did the same thing for everyone else in the church. Everyone. A card, a note, a thought, a prayer. Emma loved us all. She was a Christian, and she was a funny kind of person.
There was a woman who wrote me as I was leaving my position as editor of the Wesleyan Christian Advocate. “We’ve never actually met,” she said, “but I want you to know I’m adding you to my list of former pastors for whom I pray every day.” Funny, isn’t it? I’ve never forgotten that.
There was an older man in my church—no kids of his own—who always gave money for kids’ scholarships—camp, Bible School, student retreats. And there was a young mom who, as busy as she was with her own kids, always fixed a little extra at dinner time and carried it to one of our older members.
I did a funeral once for a person whom almost no one in our church knew, so long had she been homebound. At the funeral were her immediate family, a couple of neighbors, and one other church member, who slipped in a little late. “I didn’t know you knew her,” I said afterwards. “Oh, I didn’t, but if there is a funeral for a church member and work hasn’t taken me out of town, I always feel that I should be here.”
Christians are funny people—ha-ha-funny sometimes—and sometimes gloriously, beautifully funny-strange. Let us now praise funny people. Amen.


                                                                                                                                  In Christ,
                                                                                                                                  Rev. Mark Westmoreland
Author: Mark Westmoreland

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