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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Write in the HUMOR genre (04/12/07)

TITLE: The Water Bottle Protection
By dub W
04/12/07


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Pulpit height and position are often dictated by groups of well meaning lay people who have never stood before a yawning group of 300 parishioners. Our church pulpit sits on the right side of the congregation, opposite the choir. There are two steps up to the platform for the minister, thus making him or her a couple of feet above the congregation – the philosophy of such an arrangement is beyond most laypersons.

However, from this perch, the pastor can see virtually everything that goes on, from the sleeping gents, to the loving couple, to the unhappy family, it’s all laid out for the leader in the sanctuary.

I had the privilege of serving a moderately sized congregation during the long term illness of their appointed minister. There, I learned first hand of the reason for the polite cough and bottle of drinking water.

Sometimes events happened away from the pulpit. For example: five minutes before a certain Sunday service I was summoned to the church basement. One of the teenage girls had crawled under all of the women’s room bathroom stalls, and locked the doors. Reaction was immediate, in robes I slid on my back and unlocked the doors, and emerged from the bathroom to cheers.

Then there was the Sunday little Jimmy did something so incredible that the whole congregation took notice. Honesty, I don’t know what it was, but in the middle of silent meditation, Jimmy’s sister screamed, “Jimmy, I’m gonna kill you.”

We’ve had our share of choir members drop books and music; but, my favorite story from opposite side of the chancel was during a reconstruction phase of the organ area, when the pianist, who was seated on a six inch platform scooted backward off of the platform and landed in the lap of a guitar player – the guitarist had luckily just put his instrument into a stand. Both red-faced people stood to the snickers of the congregation.

During the beginning of our service, acolytes light candles along the back of the altar area. The candelabras are on shelves about five feet off of the floor. Do the addition with me. A candle in a candelabrum stands about 30 inches tall. Candle shields add an inch or so. The wand used to light the candles is about three foot long. In other words, the tip of the candle is almost eight feet from the floor. Short acolytes must stand on a foot stood in order to light the candles. Now, the oh-oh factor – a member of the altar committee must make sure that the wicks are trimmed – otherwise the candle won’t light even with a blowtorch. Sure enough, one Sunday, the shortest of the acolytes attempted to light an untrimmed candle – down the isle came the lay leader, asking parishioners if they smoked and had a lighter. The child was frozen holding the extinguished wand. The six foot tall lay leader grabbed the candelabrum, pulled it off of the shelf. Immediately, the candle and the candelabrum became separated, the candle fell to the carpet, the golden shield fell aside in a different direction. The lay leader sat on the floor and tried to light the candle, finally, with the aid of one of the female choir members, he peeled away the wax, lit the candle, put it back into the candelabrum, and then put the whole thing back on the shelf - minus the shield, and then almost pushed the acolyte into the her seating area.

But, my all time favorite happened to our pastor. Almost every Sunday, during the Lord’s Prayer, a loud voice in the balcony rang across the sanctuary. The words of the prayer were spoken by a child seated in one corner, and certainly carried through the hall. Indeed, one Sunday the pastor backed away from the microphone and allowed the child to lead the congregation. He said later, that’s the way it should be.

Indeed, from the pulpit the congregation is exposed. Happiness and sorrow is laid out in such a manner that the pastor sees it all. And all of the pratfalls of a service are his or her entertainment, nearly every Sunday morning. Sometimes, a cough and sip from the water bottle are the only thing that keeps a pastor from "falling out."


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This article has been read 973 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Julie Arduini04/20/07
I'll always think of that when my pastor takes a sip. You gave a great perspective to church experience, with the right touch of humor. Nice work!
Joyce Samuel04/21/07
An article for imaginative mathematicians, which I happen not to be! I lost much of my humour in the maze of all the details on measurements. Sorry I couldn't do the addition with you. But I certainly laughed at the organist who landed in the lap of the guitarist!
Verna Cole Mitchell 04/21/07
A minister really does see some strange things from his vantage point. As a preacher's kid, I heard some great ones from my dad. My favorite anecdote of yours was the pianist landing in the guitar player's lap. You have someIntereting anecdotes.
Jacquelyn Horne04/23/07
Good rendition of the view from the pulpit. Many funny stories arise I'm sure. Much like the ones you just shared.
Joanne Sher 04/23/07
I definitely enjoyed this "pastors-eye view." Definitely chuckled, and will certainly look at the "pastoral sip" with new eyes from now on.
Rita Garcia04/23/07
Enjoyed this story from beginning to end, and I can only imagine that there are indeed more tales to tell! Funny, delightful and well written!
terri tiffany04/23/07
I liked the voice throughout - I also liked how you ended it- Nice work! The events were funny and well told:)
Jan Ackerson 04/23/07
My favorite was the "Jimmy" story, but they were all entertaining.

One nitpick: "aisle" instead of "isle".

What is masterful about this is the set-up (the reason for the cough-and-sip) and the payoff. Beautifully constructed.
Val Clark04/24/07
You made a good fist of stringing these amusing anecdotes together. I'm smiling. yeggy
Pam Carlson-Hetland04/24/07
Having worked as a parish secretary on a couple occasions, I appreciated these behind the scenes tales. Funny, interesting, tied together well at the end. Good job.
Sara Harricharan 04/24/07
A very different and hilarious outlook on 'church life'. I love the little stories woven in here. There were a few typos, like "foot stood, should've been Foot stool" (I think ^_^) My favorite story was the teenage girl who locked all the bathroom stalls...lol.
Shari Armstrong 04/25/07
I'll never look at that glass of water the same way again! ROFL!
Betty Castleberry04/25/07
Creative take on the topic. I like the story of Jimmy's sister screaming the best. It would be nearly impossible to keep a straight face after hearing *that.* Kudos.
Donna Emery04/25/07
What a warm, sweet story. I can feel the affection in it. This is lovely and I thank you for sharing it.
Cheri Hardaway 04/25/07
Loved the bit about the pianist and the guitar player. Now I'm really going to be watching my pastor... Ha! Blessings, Cheri