Look, there on the mountains the feet of one who brings good news…
They were loud and exuberant, full of energy and kinetic motion and why shouldn’t they be? They were children, full of life and the joy of being free. There were generally five of them, sometimes more and they streaked through the congregation like startled fish in a small pond. Of course they moved fast they were typical five and six year old kids. Why walk when you could run? I had asked them several times not to run in the sanctuary but they forgot.
Kids are kids I kept telling myself but it bothered me. Every Sunday at the conclusion of the worship service the children were released (un-incarcerated?) from Jr. Church and came flying through the sanctuary. I was concerned because I could see the catastrophe coming.. You see we had a number of older folks in the Body and I was afraid the kids would unintentionally run into somebody and accidently knock them down.
There was Vern Milligan who 101 years old and hobbled around in his dapper three piece suit with a cane. Yup. One hundred and one and in remarkable shape. When I would ask him, “Hey Vern, how you doing?” He would always respond with, “Well I am still able to sit up and take nourishment.” And indeed he was. I had lunch with him not so long ago and he ate like a horse. He was also cantankerous. Periodically Vern would get mad at me over something that was done at the church and threaten, “To take my wallet and go somewhere else.” That had been going on for a number of years but so far so good.
Sarah Swanson who was somewhere in her late eighties and an absolute delight. She was a sweetheart and I so appreciated her dry sense of humor and twinkling eyes. In contrast her husband Carl was the most dour Swede I ever met and walked around with a perpetual scowl on his face. I knew he was at least ninety if not more. The Swanson’s health was tenuous and they were both pretty frail.
Of course there was Jack Baker who struggled to keep his balance sometimes. Then there was Larry and Betty whom I secretly called in my mind ‘the apple dumpling dolls’ because that is exactly what they looked like. Larry had a pacemaker as big as a dollar watch implanted in his chest. He told me privately one day that when he felt like chasing Betty around the house he would call the technician at the doctor’s office and have him dial it up a little.
These were precious people and I wanted to protect them but at the same time I didn’t want to come across to the children as some sort of a policeman. I just wasn’t sure what to do and then the light bulb appeared over my head . The Lord gave me a solution. The kids needed an illustration. Something they could see and make an indelible print in their minds.
I looked around the sanctuary and found my friend Eddie Burch. He was talking with a couple friends and I got his attention and called him over. Eddie lived at the Vets Home in Yountville. Eddie was a good guy. I liked him a lot. He was genuine and what you saw was what you got. He had bit of a checkered past and at one time even made his living as a professional gambler. That is until he lost it all. He was forced to move into a trailer park in Southern California and it was there that a lady named Wanda led him to the Lord. When his health started to fail he moved from the trailer park to the Vets home and that is where we met him. Eddie also had a prosthesis for his right leg. It attached at the knee and he always dressed it in a matching shoe and sock. He handled it well and walked with a barely noticeable limp. I explained my dilemma with the kids and asked him if he would be willing to show his “wooden leg” as he called it to the kids.
“Sure”, he said” Anything to help you Pastor Ken.”
I rounded up the kids and got their attention. “Come over here guys I want to show you one of the reasons we don’t run in the sanctuary. “ The kids gathered around and Eddie sat down, pulled up his pant leg and unstrapped his prosthesis. and laid it across his lap.
Now mind you that was not what I had in mind. I anticipated that Eddie would simply raise his pant leg a little and show them that he had an artificial leg made out of plastic.
The children reacted with stunned silence. As I looked at them all I could see was chins on chests and eyes round with…I don’t know…shock, wonder, horror. Five year old Krista looked at me and said in a quiet voice, “He took his leg off.”
“Uh thanks Eddie, appreciate it. You can put it back on now.”
“Glad to help Pastor” Eddie said as he strapped it back on in front of his rapt audience.
Well I must tell you that there was very little running through the sanctuary after that. I did spend some time calling parents and explaining to them that they might be getting some unusual feedback from their kids.
Yes indeed the Lord is the Master of illustration.