"Well, I'll Be John Brown"

Real stories about folks who have blessed my life with the joy and fulfillment of laughter. Long may they live.

Location: Atlanta, Georgia, United States

A Southern Boy - Born In Alabama, Reared In Georgia, and Matriculated, Married & Initiated Into Manhood In Tennessee.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Would You Buy A Used Funeral Sermon From This Man?

Funerals and baptisms, and all kinds of church related stuff in our wonderful southern culture, are "happenings" to say the least.

I officiated a funeral once where one of the family members was so angry at the dearly departed that he asked me to simply read the euology that he had written for his family member. Like the big dummy that I am I agreed. "Without rehearsal," he demanded. The demon that had me in his clutches that day did not protest. I was simply along for the ride.

The sermon was handwritten on what looked like to be used pieces of notebook paper from way back in my elementary school days when the "Nifty" Trapper-Keeper was in style. I sensed that this "loving" tribute had been composed some time before the poor sinner in question had gone on to meet his maker. Nevertheless, I read it. Every word. Just as it had been written.

When I got to the part about the deceased, "roasting like a pig over a hot flame somewhere beneath the hubs of hell," I decided right then and there that I would accept no remuneration for this one. After the closing prayer, no one offered to bake me a pie or even take me down to the Pig n' Jig for a barbecue sandwich. Every since that day, whenever there is a potluck dinner on the grounds at church, I have this same man who wrote the now infamous, "funeral from hell," to sample any food brought to me by courier - the local general store having mysteriously sold out of rat poison the day after this monumental occasion.

A friend of mine was approached by a family in his congregation asking for him to baptize their youngest daughter. This young lady, in her early teens, was severely mentally retarded. My friend said that it was his belief based on what the Good Book says that this girl did not need to be baptized. Her family disagreed and pressed the issue. My friend finally relented.

He donned the waders and headed into the cold baptistry waters as the deacon lead the congregation in, "Oh Happy Day." There were two long flights of stairs (about twenty steps each) leading down into the baptistry waters from each side. Once my friend made it down into the water from his side, he looked up and saw the young lady at the top of the other flight of stairs. As the deacon and congregation were finishing the song my friend quickly moved through the water to the side where the young lady was. His aim was to hold her hand and help her down into the water.

Before my preacher buddy could reach the other side, the young lady - evidently moved by some unclean spirit - let out an ecstatic utterance of some unknown kind and proceeded to do a perfect swan dive from the top step right into the middle of the baptistry and direcly on top of my dumbfounded and drowning preacher friend.

They said the water from that dive flew out the front of the baptistry and drenched the poor deacon songleader from head to foot. The congregation was still laughing the next Sunday when they took up at the building again for morning services.

Who says a preacher don't earn his keep?

For those who do darken the door of their local church building or other place of worship more than once right at the end of it all, here's a little ditty that you might want to keep in your front pocket just in case. If your preacher ever gets stuck in a longwinded rut and you feel anointed or moved by some higher force to help him recover from it, simply suggest that on the next Sunday he might consider preaching the world's shortest sermon.

Which is...

"Turn or burn, while we stand and sing!!!!!!!"


LIB John Brown


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