Saturday, April 17, 2010

Snakes In Church

When I was a kid, my dad was the preacher at a small country church. It had a cemetery with some very old stones in it, but part of it was still open and we spent some very enjoyable Sunday afternoons playing games with the other kids in the church. The front of the church had a large concrete slab where everyone gathered if the weather was nice. The doors were typical of late 1800’s style. They were solid wood with really cool, old doorknobs. The church also had another awesome feature that all of us kids absolutely loved. It was a bell. It could be heard for quite some distance when it was rung every Sunday morning at 9 a.m.

We didn’t have indoor plumbing there, only an outhouse that was a good 50 feet from the back door. When it rained, and sometimes it poured, no one could get to it without being drenched. Needless to say, this was a real country church. Because the church was old, it also lacked air conditioning. I remember all the ladies sitting there with those fans that had Jesus picture on it. The windows would all be open and fans in the windows would be blowing, but in August, it was never enough.

One of the ways the elders were able to keep air moving in the church was to leave the front doors open. There were no screen doors on the outside so all kinds of bugs and other creatures could come in. It was quite normal to see people batting away mosquitoes on Sunday evenings. The problem was that not just bugs came in.

One of the elders was a man named Bruce who loved nature of any kind. His garden was the best in the congregation. He truly had a green thumb. He taught me, and every other child, as much as he could about bugs, frogs, plants, and anything else regarding nature. It was always a fun day with him. If you went to his house on Sunday afternoon in the summer, you spent time with him in the garden and learned even more. He is part of some of my favorite childhood memories.

One of Bruce’s routines on Sunday mornings was to check the bathrooms for snakes. With the concrete floors, snakes loved the coolness of the bathroom. I loved to go with him on these hunts because I would get to see a snake on occasion, and Bruce would explain what type of snake it was and I learned even more. Needless to say, he was the resident snake remover. And did he ever come in handy one Sunday.

Dad was preaching and I remember thinking it was awfully hot that morning. It probably was August. You know the kind of day when no breeze to move the air and the humidity is as high as the temperature. I vividly remember catching a glimpse of Bruce getting out of his seat and calmly walking down the aisle about halfway down the church. Being a child I was terribly fascinated about why he would get up in the middle of the sermon. When I turned to get a full look at what he was doing, I just smiled. He was doing what I had seen him do many, many times. He was trying to entice a snake to bite a pencil so he could remove it from the church without causing a scene. He succeeded admirably.

The lesson we can take from this is simple. If I tell you there are snakes in church, there just may be.


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