Last Sunday I told two stories that happened in Cabela’s the past year. Told about my having grabbed a handful of candy corn from a jar on a table at the front door in Cabela’s, thinking it was free candy corn as a Welcome to Cabela’s hospitality gesture. Kids stared at me…it was a Guess How Many Pieces of Candy Corn Are in the Jar contest. Minus 30 on that handful. Not a good day. Next time I went the jar had been taped shut by Cabela’s management. Good move.Then my losing the newly-fixed tent poles IN Cabela’s happened last week. Employees were involved in a massive hunting expedition in Cabela’s, trying to track down and capture the elusive tent poles. They did.
After church last Sunday, Annette came panting up to me and told me she loved the tent pole story. Annette our pianist is a reserved-type of woman who is not usually so expressive. But she can surprise you, like she did last Sunday. She told me she OWNS the machine that can be used to restring the shock cords in tent poles like mine. Even Cabela’s does not own or carry such an instrument. Annette loves to camp. It impressed me that she owned such a tool.
I took the hard copy of the sermon to Vernon and his manager at Cabela’s last Monday. Just another reason to make a trip to Cabela’s. Email copies had already been sent but they needed a hard copy from me. Vernon and I got to chatting. He does not chat long. He is busy in the Camping Department upstairs.
I thanked him again and told him I was a preacher so I did not have much to offer in thank-you terms. I told him I could either do his funeral or do his wedding free of charge, his choice. I added that since he looked to be about 25 and rather healthy that it did not looked like he needed a funeral any time soon. He concurred.
I said, “Are you married?” He said, “No, but there is something brewing.” He said he had given up on the whole relationship thing and was going to be single the rest of his life. But a friend kept insisting on introducing him to this one girl. Vernon was tired of being introduced to potential dates. It was easier to just work at Cabela’s and to camp and fish when not working.
His friend insisted and finally Vernon met this girl. He told me, “Gary, she is perfect. Absolutely perfect woman. She loves to hike, hunt, fish, and camp.” Perfect woman.” He was grinning from ear to ear. Perfection is in the eyes of the beholder.
New Steve Jones came up to me last Sunday after church. He has been visiting this church for weeks, plays on our softball team, and struck me as a man’s man. A Cabela’s sort of man. But he surprised me last Sunday. He shook my hand and said, “Next time you go to Cabela’s, will you take me with you?” I told him I would but I also told him that I was surprised that he had never been in Cabela’s.
He said, “Oh, I live in Cabela’s. Go there all the time. But I never have had as much fun in there as you have had. I want to go tag along with you and have some fun in there.” He smiled. He wanted to be where I was.
I want to be where you are and to do what you are doing. This church is a serving church. I want to be doing what you are doing. Yesterday a woman told me at Market Days that she was tired of searching for a church because she could find no good preachers. I told her, “I am not a good preacher. You are welcome to visit here. But I will tell you ahead of time I am not a good preacher. I am a Connector. I try to connect people with serving others and serving the community. I try to organize the efforts of ones coming to serve the Lord.” I told her I lead the Celebration on Sunday morning worship and that this is my job as shepherd and pastor. To organize and lead celebrations of What God Has Done Through Our Lives.
She was stunned. I was stunned. Neither of us knew what to say at that point. She asked what time the service was. I told her “We gather to Celebrate the Work of the Lord at 10:30 a.m.” and told her I hoped to see her. I like being where you all are.
The friends of Jesus stood there gazing at Jesus as He got ready to ascend and leave them and to depart them the second time in the previous 40 days. First time was at the cross. Then He came back. Now he was departing for the second time. They wanted to be where He was. They wanted Him to stay in their world and make it a better place. They asked if they could go where he was going. He told they would be given the Power to do the things He had done. That he was Sending His Spirit to dwell within them.
Yesterday Pam, Betty, Beverly, Susie, and I went on the Tour of Homes together here in San Marcos. We had toured three or four nice homes. Docents told and read from papers about the history of each room and house. We were walking down San Antonio Street a few blocks to see the next house on the list.
We stopped and gazed at one very beautiful house. Large front porch. Dutch-looking mailbox. Huge windows. Massive structure. We just gazed. A lady in dirty blue jeans came around from the back of the house with gloves on and a bag of garden soil in hand. We commented as to how beautiful her house was. Told her we were on the Tour of Homes and that her home should have been on the list this year.
She offered to give us the house. Free. Said it needed $20,000 worth of paint and repairs and that we could have the house if we wanted it. So funny.
I said, “Well, before I take the house, we want a tour of it. Will you show us the inside?” She shocked us and agreed. Two other ladies on the tour asked if they could join our group for this tour. A tour of a house not on the Tour.
I told her that her house was the only home we toured that had clothes on the beds. She pointed out that at least the clothes were folded. I told her hers was the only tour where we got to speak personally with the owner and that there were no paper speeches given. She knew her own history.
Somehow I wove in the Cabela’s stories. She ended up telling us she was the past president of the Historical Association in town and that people had wanted her home to be on the Tour this year but that she had declined. She put on shoes at one point and even told us how much they cost. She asked if we wanted to see the upstairs. “Of course”, I said. I did not want a partial tour.
I commented she must know Nelwyn Moore of the Association who is also a member of our church. She said, “Yes, I do. You must know Brenda Smith also. She and other friends of mine attend your church.” I said I did know Brenda.
Then she drew close to my face and said, “Well, I could not get my copy of my Will from Brenda’s office last week because Brenda said the office copier was out of ink from doing all of the church bulletins.” She said that three times to me. On the third time I told her I had heard her the previous two times. And yes, that was our church. We all laughed.
She went on and told us that she had included in her latest Will a statement that said, “Each person who attends my funeral will receive a piece of collectible pottery from my house and estate.” She said she hopes she has enough friends attend that she can get rid of all of her stuff.
I told her I would be checking the obituaries more closely now. I asked if I could get two pieces of pottery if I volunteered to do a prayer or something at her funeral. She said, “Sure.”
She seems nice to have around but I sure would like to have two pieces of her collectible pottery.
Vernon is meeting his girlfriend’s parents this weekend. I told him last week on the Bachelor show that the Bachelor had to meet the parents of three girls. One girl faked him out and hired fake parents to meet the Bachelor. They were horrible to him. She did not get a rose that evening. Vernon moaned.
Serve God. Accept His Spirit within you. Laugh. Enjoy the friends in the Family of Life that God has blessed us with each day. Watch the obituaries each day closely if you want some nice pottery. We are Easter people. He is Risen. He is Risen Indeed. We can even plan out our funerals with laughter and pottery give-aways in mind. God wants to be where we are for we are His. Amen.
By GARY L. SMITH
Reverend – Christ the Redeemer Church