Monday, April 2, 2012

When Jasmine comes to church

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Today’s Blog Post
When Jasmine comes to church

As the procession began on Sunday morning I had a big grin on my face. At that point I was more than a little bit discombobulated. I had never done this kind of thing before. This was completely new for me!!

Now to help you catch what was happening I would like you to look at these following photographs. The photos are taken at St. Paul’s Presbyterian Church in Peterborough, Ontario – on Palm Sunday. That is the hint that you need to have at this point.

Here are the photos (apologies for the quality – the photographer was using a brand new camera on a cell phone).

So did you catch something unusual in some of these photos?  Go ahead - look again!!

No it is not because the St. Paul’s Presbyterian Church is a very beautiful old building.

It is not because I am in a Presbyterian Church on a Sunday morning.

It is not because some of the older ladies had one hats on Sunday Morning.

It is not the beautiful Pipe Organ either….

Here look again…

Did you see her?

Her name is Jasmine. Her mother used to come to this church each Palm Sunday. But her mother died quite suddenly just before Christmas about two years ago.

Now Jasmine comes to church twice a year… once at Christmas where she is a star attraction at Bethlehem Live and she performs her stuff outside the church in the park across the street. And the second time is Palm Sunday where she definitely is the main event. She certainly covered whatever I did right or wrong as I led the service in my way.

Jasmine is a donkey… a real live one… that walks in following the Choir processional and the children waving Palm Branches. On Jasmine’s back is Jesus. And leading the donkey is a gentleman that owns Jasmine and who goes through a tremendous amount of work bringing her in from his farm (sorry I didn’t get his name – only that he was Jesus’ helper).

Yesterday I was blessed. People were so friendly and warm.

There was forgiveness when I forgot to lead them in saying the Lord’s Prayer.

There was warmth and a grin on their faces when the Organist and Choir leader gently came over behind me and told me that I could sit down during the special number that was being sung behind me.

There were big smiles when the Sunday School teachers told me that we should pause now and pray for the children before they go out.

And there was a tremendous response when I preached the sermon. Everyone was listening so intently. Amazing! (Incidentally – this time of year when the tradition is so high… and so much is expected of the Preacher to come up with something new… there is no greater pressure – ever!)

My greatest blessing was having Rev George Turner in the audience. George just retired from St. Paul’s last month… and there he was in the audience. And when he told me how much he appreciated the sermon and being able to listen to me speak… I was humbled. George had arrived in Peterborough as the new pastor at St. Paul’s in the spring of 1986. He has just completed 26 years of great ministry at this wonderful old church.

I know that George was grinning as I made the booboos yesterday. But I know that he must have been proud as well… with so many of his lay people involved and doing so well at their ministries. That has to be so satisfying… the same as it is for me when I attend our church as the former pastor.

Jasmine and Jasmine’s mother started coming to St. Paul’s under George’s ministry.

(On the side – away back in 1999 I was responsible for letting a man drive his motorcycle down the aisle of the Northview Church. I was new as the minister. It was planned as part of the drive we were beginning to try to pay down our debt. Some people left the church service that morning screaming at me from the back of the church – during the service!! Then they and some others that packed up and left all together! Imagine what would have happened back in those years if I would have been responsible for bringing a “Jasmine” with all her smell and barn presence with her!!!? Lord deliver me!!!)

St. Paul’s Presbyterian is a wonderful church… no wait… that is a GREAT Church! They have heart of gold and are so open to everything that is taking place.

Thank you St. Paul’s folk – thank you so much!

~ Murray Lincoln ~

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