I’m talking Pew Number Four from the back. And while it doesn’t have my name on it, it’s mine.
Main reason I tell you I’m talking Pew Number Four from the back is I’m a back-bencher, always have been, always will be. Sitting down front can be something of a problem in a Southern Baptist church ... for several reasons:
1. The preacher can spot a nap in a Daytona second.
2. When you sit down front, you draw attention to yourself. The church leadership will get the idea to ask you to do something. You do one thing, you will be asked to do a second ... and so on.
Don’t get me wrong here.
In addition to the preacher leading the wicked to the gates of heaven and the choir putting you in a heavenly mood, you HAVE to have people who are “doers.”
Somebody has to turn on the lights and the AC/heat, sweep the floors, be sure the sound system is working, buy the meat for the Fifth Sunday Singing/Fellowship/Eating (an event at which I am first in line), change the sign out front ... the list is endless. I appreciate each one and thank The Good Lord for them.
While Pew Number Four from the back doesn’t have my name on it, my pastor, The Rev. Truman Norred, claims it’s something of a sleeping station for me.
In turn, I keep him informed of just where his sermons rank on my scale of naps. I don’t know where that got started, but one Sunday over fried chicken at Jack’s (on Quintard), when he asked the blonde:
“How many times did you have to elbow George today?”
I was ready, knew it was coming (same “cut” every Sunday) and had been writing down replies for a month. The one I picked was a real zinger ... or so I thought:
“Actually Preacher, you did a great job this morning. I took just one nap, best I can remember.”
While my pastor may not be Billy Graham, he ain’t bad. Another thing is while he flat loves to “zing” others, he can take a lick, too.
Another thing that amazes me about The Rev. Truman Norred is the clock in his head.
In our church bulletin on Sunday morning, he always lists the Bible verses from whence that day’s inspiration comes.
As in John 3:14 or say Corinthians 4:7-19.
If it’s one verse or 12, he will nail 30 minutes right on the button, no watch, no hour glass, no whatever. How he manages to do that is a wonderment, truly it is.
Anyway, also on a Sunday morning, I’ll get at least three prayers (in addition to the message) and two or three songs from the best little choir in any town. They’re not great in number (truth is, neither is our congregation), but led by Sandra Triplett and piano by Helen Henley, they do make a joyful noise, so to speak.
Sandra has a voice that will break a beer mug and Helen has forgot more about the piano than most folks ever know.
Sandra also sticks mostly (not always) to the “old-timey” hymns. On a recent Sunday, we got to sing along with “Peace Like A River” and “Standing On The Promises.”
I love the old hymns. They move you spiritually in a way “contemporary” can not.
Also, don’t get me wrong. I am in no way complaining of 30-minute sermons. That’s due in part to the years of my youth that I spent on the hard pine benches of small churches out on the “dirt” route.
One preacher still in my remembrances had a standard of at least one hour for his sermon. He’d then hit his knees and treat the congregation to another 15-20 minutes of praying.
That was during my courtship of the blonde and, if I’m honest here, maybe I carry a bit of a grudge for all the courting time I lost.
Since my courting days are but precious memories, 30-minute preaching doesn’t really bother me all that much.
See you in a while, Preacher.
George Smith can be reached at 256-239-5286 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org