Fragrance of Life
Bag Lady was hopping mad. She had come to the funeral hoping to pass out a bit batch of perfectly perfumed "tea and sympathy" cards only to find herself overpowered by a strange aroma. One far stronger than anything she had ever smelled before. T'was the scent of joy. And it was making her sick.
All those men, women, and children in their bright colors! Looking so happy, so peaceful, so - so alive! Not a wet eye in the bunch. No tissues boxes either. For crying out loud, what did they think this was - a party?
Up at the podium Pastor Faintnot was giving his message, taken from the eleventh chapter of the gospel of John. "Now Mary and Martha had a brother named Lazarus, a man that Jesus loved. Think about it. The Bible tells us God IS love. In Him we live and move and have our being. Get a load of that fragrance!" He took a deep breath, then let it out with a smile.
The rest of the congregation followed suit. Breathing in, breathing out. Inhaling, exhaling. "Ahhh!"
"Blah," grumbled Bag Lady.
"Now when Jesus was away, Lazarus got the worst kind of rotten egg flu bug you have ever smelled! I mean, open the windows and blast the fan! It was ripe! If you know what I'm talking about, give me an 'amen!'"
Several 'amens' rang out through the audience, while Bag Lady searched her purse for a clothespin.
"So the sisters sent for Jesus, the healing man. They said, 'The one you love is sick.' Ahhh, the one Jesus loved!
"Ahhh!" sighed the congregation.
"He was beloved of the Master, but the Master let him down. Now why would He do that? Let me tell you why. It's because there ain't nothin' that ruins a party like a poopy diaper."
Bag Lady nearly fainted at the mention of the word poop. This was going too far!
But Pastor Faintnot wasn't finished. He explained how "poopy diaper" equals "poopy attitude." To Mary, Martha and company, Jesus' leaving Lazarus alone to rot was a poopy diaper. "Oh, Jesus, why'd you let him die? If you'd loved him, you'd 'a healed him! This stinks!" Well, there was something there that stunk, but it wasn't Jesus. It was that dead, rotting corpse of unbelief all those mourners had stuffed in their closets. 'Cause as you all know, it's tons easier to blame God for your problems than to roll away that stone. "Oh no, Lord. I got a secret to protect. Moment it hits the fan, this guy's in big trouble. Ain't no one going near that tomb!"
That was it. Bag Lady had heard enough. "This stinks!" she whispered, loud enough for the entire church to hear.
Her comments hit a tender nerve with Hunchback, her wilting flower of a husband, who thought she meant him. "Yeah, right, way to go. Airing out our dirty laundry here in public!"
"Quiet, Ned. I wasn't talking about you."
"Well, if you didn't mean me, who did you mean - the corpse?!"
"Of course not, Ned! You are not the rotten egg, and neither is Faith. It's this smelly service I can't stand!"
"Well, whose idea was it to crash the funeral? I mean, you got what you wanted already. Why pound more nails in the coffin?"
"It's my job!"
Ned and Bag Lady were so busy flinging rotten tomatoes at each other, they barely heard the rest of the sermon. All they caught was the last part where Faintnot announced, "And now I'm going to do something I've never done at a funeral before. It may seem unusual to many of you, but it's Biblical, as I've just shown you from the Bible. And it's what Faith would have wanted - guaranteed!"
"Oh no," grumbled Bag Lady under her breath, loud enough for everyone to hear. "Don't say it. Don't you DARE say it!"
"I'm going to pray for Faith to come back to life."
"Dang!" shouted Bag Lady. "I told him not to say it and he said it!" She stood up in a flash, a speck of black in a sea of bright color, and yelled, "Enough! I forbid this to go any further!"
Pastor Faintnot nodded to two men in the front row, one clad in flaming orange, the other in bright purple. Turning his eyes on Bag Lady, he said, "Young woman, I must ask you to please not stink up the place with your rebellion. Or out you go."
Bag Lady's eyes popped open wide, as if the man had just slapped her in the face. She abruptly turned her cheeky cheek away from him and focused all her fury on the front row. Where Faith's parents, Henry and Mabel, sat watching, aghast at the bullishness of this nagging cow.
They could almost see her hoofs pounding the ground as she snorted, "I might have known you'd try a stunt like this, Henry."
Whap! The sudden close-up hit her eyes like a cherry pie to the face. Her mouth dropped open. "Henry, what did you do to your nose?"
"What about my nose?" muttered Henry.
"Yeah, what about his nose?" asked Faintnot. "And didn't I tell you to close your trap?"
"Good luck getting that moo mouth to close her trap," muttered Ned, fed up with his wife's insults. His uncalled for comments sent shockwaves throughout his wife's body.
"What did you just call me?" came her stunned retort.
"Moo mouth," replied the frazzled husband up front and to her face.
"Why, I never! How dare you call me a horse, you - you anti-green pollution machine! I suppose you think my nose will be just fine in the presence of that - that decaying corpse, while Rudolf and his clowns fritter the hours away on their mumbo-jumbo dead-raising dance. I shudder to think of its effects on the ozone layer!"
Faintnot's patience was wearing thin. "Ma'am," he warned, "I asked you more than once to zip your lips. But you just keep flap-pin' 'em. Which makes me think that maybe you didn't hear me right the first time. So I'll say it again. Zip 'em, and zip 'em good. Or else my men will do it for you. Your choice."
"Why I never!" yelled Bag Lady. "In the name of medicine I demand you stop this ridiculous assault on the environment!" In her mind Faintnot was full of hot air - all talk, no action. As was that quiet bottle of lukewarm, no-fizz root beer with the giant cherry on top.
The bottle she'd had the nerve to call "Rudolf."
Splash! The bottle exploded, right in her face.
"Zelda, you have gone too far! I'm tired of your bossy ways, your pastel wallpaper, your chemotherapy, your funeral crashing, and all those cheap cracks directed at my shnoz. Which happns to be a great shnoz, and the only one I've got!"
The congregation cheered.
Zelda's jaw dropped. For the first time in his life, her brother-in-law was standing up to her. She was so shocked she didn't know what to say.
The two pastor's men knew what to say.
"P1 to P2. Time to draw the noose."
"On it, P1. Bag Lady going down."
"Oh no, you don't!" protested Zelda, seeing the man in purple heading her direction. "You can't stop me!"
"Don't be so sure," he countered, taking a deep breath. "I can leap a pew as well as any scare-is-matic!" Empowered by the fragrance of heaven, he hopped the first one in a single bound, then jumped over the next. The people in those rows parted like the Red Sea, giving him plenty of room. Bye, bye, Bag Lady.
Zelda screamed. There had to be a way of escape! Perhaps she too could jump a pew. She tried, but missed, landing on a plump lady in blue armed with a rainbow umbrella.
Who hadn't come to church to be assaulted.
Whack, whack, whack! "Get your stinking corpse off my new dress!"
"Ow! Ow! Ow!"
Covering her battered head, Zelda tried to duck to the floor. But too many arms, legs, and pews stood in her way.
Desperate to regain control, she yelled, "Ned! The brick! Quick!"
But Ned held her purse tightly in his grip. "No, Zelda. I refuse to be your patsy anymore."
The shock hit Zelda like a punch in the gut. He had always been her doormat. The nerve!
Furious, she made a last-ditch grab for the item - just in time to see the pew jumper staring her in the face. He karate chopped her snatching hand while the man in orange gagged her from behind. After they had muzzled her and tied her arms, the two pall bearers dragged her from the building.
Into a waiting squad car.
Ned willingly turned over to them the brick, which was actually a stink bomb. And that was the end of that.
Once the air had been cleared, Pastor Faintnot resumed his stance at the podium. "Now then, anyone else care to join Miss Jezebel?" He pointed to the exit.
The crowd roared with laughter. Ahhh, the fragrance of spring!
And so the service continued. Surrounded by Faith's father, mother, siblings, and three elders, Pastor Faintnot stood at the head of the coffin and prayed the prayer of faith.
Speaking to the dead body, he said, "Faith Smith, come forth!"
"They're calling for you," said the angel who had come to escort his charge all the way from heaven back to earth.
"Then I must go," said Faith. "But I'll be back."
"Bringing many others with you, no doubt. Remember: Life's a party, no matter what comes your way. Keep your joy and always breathe the air of heaven.
"I'll miss you," said Faith. She waved goodbye to heaven's host, took a deep breath, and took a step toward the casket.
The next moment she opened her eyes to find herself inside the strangest bed she'd ever lain in, sitting up to see her entire family standing before her.
Ahh, the luscious smell of faith! Not as fragrant as heaven, where she would have loved to stay. But coming back to earth was the only way to fill that place.
Pastor Faintnot gave her his hand, and helped her from the casket.
The rest is history. The most important part of which was written on Faith's gravestone fifty-five years later (at her final death). It read as follows:
"She slew more devils by her death and resurrection than she did in her entire lifetime."
For more than one hundred people got saved at her first funeral. As did many more who heard of this mighty miracle.
Including Zelda, once she turned from her rebellion.
Ahhh, the sweet smell of salvation!
Scriptures (all KJV): Judges 16:30; I Kings 19:2; Matthew 10:8; Luke 1:37 & 10:19; John 11:1-52, 12:9-11, & 14:12
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