Beep, beep, honk, honk, honk----the red car speeding down Main Street was swerving in and out of traffic, making an awful racket. The driver waved his hand out the window.
Drivers pulled over to the curb, surprised facial expressions followed him down the street. Herman Gilbers squealed the tires as he pulled into Merriott Christian Church, one minute before services began. He jumped out of his vehicle, adjusted his shirt and pants, ran his gnarled hand through the gray and white hairs on his head, and strolled into the church.
He didn’t want to miss one nano second of worship. He wanted to hear the introductory prayer or music. Last week the young daughter of the owner of the coffee shop played her flute as the opening. Melodious notes of
“All For Jesus” filled the yellow sanctuary. Today Herman noticed
Ian Rutgers adjusting the valves of his trumpet. Herman loved brass instruments, trumpets especially. He took his seat as directed by usher, Mike Ceech, stuffing the bulletin into his shirt pocket.
Ian solemnly stood on the platform and began to play a march. Herman didn’t recognize the tune, but he tapped his feet to the beat, and liked the cadence of the music. He was reminded of other times he marched in cadence, in the army, long years ago. Whatever happened to all those close buddies, he hadn’t heard from in decades.
Pastor Lornne stepped up to offer a prayer of thanksgiving for crops harvested with abundance. He particularly mentioned the Wolf River apples pulling the tree branches to the ground. He thanked an anonymous person for leaving a gallon of cider on the hood of his own car.
Then Madeline Maybes came up to give announcements:
The Three Kings choral group would be rehearsing on Tuesdays at 7:00 pm, and any new members were welcome. They planned to sing two Sundays in November and one in December.
The Kids’ Club, Frootloops, would be meeting today at 5:00 for hot dog supper and games.
Reynald Jones had pumpkins in his field, and anyone from the church or community, could have a free pumpkin. Just leave their name in the box at the field, he also had seven puppies who needed a new home.
The congregation rose then to sing a new praise song, Herm didn’t know the tune or the words very well, but the group up front was smiling and seemed happy to be singing these words, so he figured he’d get the hang of it. The trumpet added richness to the piece.
Pastor Lornne asked the Deacons to take the offering. Herman realized, with embarrassment, he’d forgotten his envelope, and he didn’t have his wallet either, he’d been in such haste to get to church. He’d have to double up next week. A trio of young girls sang a song one of them had written, about giving your heart to Jesus, not just your money. That thought pricked a nerve in Herman’s heart.
Being here, part of this group, this church where he’d attended for only four years, felt like home. He’d grown up in this area, but going to church hadn’t always been a habit, more Sundays than not, he’d stayed at home, reading the newspaper, doing crossword puzzles, taking his red hunting dogs for a run.
Two years ago, a terrible pain crept through his body. He tried to ignore it, but after days he was sweating so just trying to work, he went to Emergency. After many tests, the doctors found a large mass, a tumor, on his colon. Surgery had taken the two- pound cyst off. Oh, how he had prayed then, to live. It wasn’t cancer, just a weird thing had been growing inside of him.
During those long lonely days in the hospital, and then recuperating at home, Dee Richardson had come by every day to check on him. Rene Comer brought her homemade chicken soup and cinnamony apple pie.
Three guys his own age, who had also served in Vietnam came over every Friday night, they brought burgers from the Grill Works and they talked, or played cards when Herman felt better.
Herman, a loner much of his life, had found a family, a sense of belonging.
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