Well, I am already thinking towards the couple of times I will speak this weekend if God wills, that will mark not only the end of my time as minister of Holy Trinity in Wester Hailes, but also my official early retirement from full time parish ministry as it is commonly understood in the Church of Scotland. To be honest, that is drawing the focus of my attention rather than the blog and probably will for a few days. However I find myself looking back over 34 years and laughing a lot at some precious moments: Let me share them with you. If you like blogs to be serious, well best not read on.
Best comment made to me after a sermon: “Utter madness!”
Best question before a baptism: “Do you mind if I take the vows and don’t mean them?”
Most inappropriate song at a funeral: “Lay your head upon my pillow, place your warm and tender body close to mine…”
Most schoolboy laughter inducing moment at Presbytery: “Moderator, I don’t think it’s wise for me to press my motion too hard.”
Most welcoming comment from a Session Clerk to a newcomer: “Clear off! We don’t want the likes of you here.”
Best imitation of me reading the intimations, by a would be 3 year old minister, said while she was standing on a box with her family listening attentively in rows in front of her: “The evil service will be after I’m in bed.”
The kid I most wanted to strangle at a time when I was trying to encourage charismatic worship: Me; “Why do we raise our hands in worship?” That blasted kid; “Is it to show off?”
Best vision statement of a person applying for a church job while being interviewed by me over lunch in a hotel: “Well Kenny, I think in these days God is turning the farts of the hathers towards the children.”
Quickest response to a question intended to catch me out: “Minister, you said in your sermon you like whisky. Does the bible not warn against strong drink? Me;“Yes it does.” The trap is set: “Is whisky not a strong drink? “ My escape; “Not to me it isn’t!”
Best quote from a fellow minister when he realised we were watching him eating his 4th. chocolate pudding at an in service training event: “Yes, I do hide my asceticism rather well.”
Best contribution in Cafe Church: “I know about Easter. There were a few hundred people and one shouted out, ‘I’m Jesus!’ Then another person in the crowd shouted out. ‘I’m Jesus!’ Then another shouted out, ‘I’m Jesus!’ They just went ahead and killed them all!” “No,” said another at the table, “that wasn’t Jesus. That was Spartacus.”
Most withering comment and most “I wish the ground would open up and swallow me” moment: while walking as a school chaplain into a 3rd year class for the first time: “I didn’t know E.T. carried a brief case!”
Most difficult “keep a straight face on a serious occasion” moment; asked by an elder just before communion: “Minister, when do you want us to bring in the linaments?“
Most unusual re-telling of the story of Jesus by a 5 year old:“Jesus was good but they killed Him.” “That’s right,” I said encouragingly. “Do you know how they killed him?” “Yes, they pushed him off the Empire State Building.“
Best interruption of preaching in an old people’s home; “Oh for goodness sake, come on, come on! I’ve got to get a bus!”
The loudest comment made about me in a quiet room: “My, what a small man!”
Phrase I wish I had heard more often: “Minister, I think we will have to cancel the service because of the weather.”
Most repeated and recurring and deflating and hope and joy killing moment: “Minister you have done so much to help me. I want to give you this gift of money…. put it towards whatever work in the church you want it to go to!”
Comment I should have resisted but didn’t; spoken to a millionaire who said very grandly he wanted to give some money to the church and made a great show of handing over £10: “Thank you so much, even small amounts are appreciated.”
Most awkward moment with an organist who was unquestionably sabotaging the service: Me; “It was this tune I was wanting for that hymn, please.” The reply said in a “Now I will watch the minister squirm” tone: “That’s the one I was playing.”
Remember, laughter is good medicine.
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