Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Stepping into a Holiness Muddle

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Stepping into a Holiness Muddle
“Oh! Oh! I think I did it again… how do I get out of this one!” was my very first thought after the words skipped out of my mouth. “Ah nuts!” was my second thought.

I had committed a foul in the “ministerial game of rightness”. I had said something that likely was going to be debated with me right then and there.  They knew that I was wrong in their eyes and their way of thinking.  And I knew that I would be considered wrong in their eyes and thinking.  Now how to get out of this one?

The setting..
I was demonstrating my wood carving at a show recently when the wide eyed kids came up to see what I had on my table.  They were really cute and from number one to number five they all looked very much the same.  You could see that they were all the same “peas in the pod”.

If I would have looked closer at the Dad I would have had a clue. He was dressed like he was going to a meeting of some sort, maybe church?  It was not a Sunday.

Mom’s clothing might have given me a clue also as she was dressed with a full length skirt on and her hair was longer.

But I had looked at the beaming eyes of the kids, they almost twinkled.  All five had that ‘Wow’ look about them.

Along with the kids and their parents were the Grandparents that stood back a little and smiled as I told the stories of the different carvings and old toys on my display table.

The kids asked questions and mom kind of cheered them on as they took part in the action I provided.

Dad stood there kind of looking down his nose quietly. He was sizing me up. No kidding. He was doing a C.A.T. Scan on my person for some reason or other?  Maybe it was because I had his kids laughing and his wife was responding as well. With the Grandparents interacting as well he was growing even more suspicious of me and had said nothing.

That was definitely weird.  I was moving at a clip speaking with his kids and they were giggling at my stories.

On my table I had toys. These ‘toy ideas’ were created back in the last two centuries.  They are made of wood and are quiet to use and rather mesmerizing in their own special way. Only one is not quiet to use as it makes a gentle buzzing sound… like a bug in the tree.

I should mention here that it is a pioneer exhibit which I do a lot of in a number of places now.

When I get to the toy part of my story I explain to the children, “Grandpas used to make these for their Grandkids to use on Sunday afternoon – when everyone was to be quiet.” I explained that the folk all went to church on Sunday morning and then they were quiet for the rest of the day. Way back then Sunday was a “day of rest”.

I usually ask the kids if they were able to be quiet all day Sunday.  They usually say an adamant. “NO WAY!”

I think it was at that moment that I busted something in this family’s group relationship with me… oh boy!

Dad stared at me even more and mom’s smile dropped a little. The kids had mixed emotions on their faces… and Grandpa had lost a little of his smile too but he was looking right at me to see what would come next.

You are asking me at this moment… “What happened? Why the rapid change?!?”

I still had not figured it out at this point.

I rolled on with Grandpa Lincoln’s road show and talk. I rattled on how I had found it hard to be quiet on Sunday morning or Sunday afternoon.  I told the group that all of the kids in my day and age had problems living like that.

The Dad’s head cocked sideways a little with a new stance of sorts.  He appeared to be listening even closer to what I said now – analyzing every word that I was speaking.

I was genuinely nervous now.  What is going on!?

Instead of stopping what I was saying… oh boy… I blew it completely.

I changed the subject from being quiet all day Sunday to telling the kids that I also carved one more special thing… and I then pulled out the “Elder Wand” that I had carved specially for the kids.

AT EVERY OTHER SHOW this is when the kids will press in and ask if they can hold it.  Their eyes usually sparkle and they want to see more of it.  I did a very good job of carving this piece of wood and it looks just like the Elder Wand – the most powerful Wand of all Wands in the Harry Potter Movie, especially the last movie.

I told them that when I saw the movie with my Grandkids and Harry Potter had broken the Elder Wand at the end of the movie I decided then to carve one… at that exact moment.

Usually I have the small audience right with me as I describe that part.

Five kids stared at me and had no idea what I was talking about. Mom was puzzled and looked at her husband for some reaction. He was not only staring holes through me he was now sputtering something about, “…the children have never seen or know about Harry Potter.”


It then registered with my tiny brain… these are strict parents that WOULD NEVER ALLOW THEIR KIDS TO LOOK AT THAT EVIL STUFF like Harry Potter.  They couldn’t even say Harry’s name.

Double oops.

But I didn’t quit there. You just know that I wouldn’t – right?

I sputtered on that after those years of trying to be quiet on Sunday afternoon I had become a Minister in a church for over 35 years. Blah, Blah, Blah.

The Dad looked intently at me and asked in rather stern voice, “What church would that be?”

I hesitated and then sputtered, “Pentecostal…” and stopped.  I knew that I was about to hear the rest… oh boy.

“I am an ordained Independent Baptist Minister and we are starting an independent church in the Scarborough, Toronto area” he stated. “It is a missionary work and I am from Pennsylvania.”

Now I saw possible recovery coming.  “Oh wow that is great! I was not only a Minister in Canada but also a Missionary in Asia. I had the wonderful opportunity to live in Hong Kong and travel in China. I also was able to learn to speak Chinese somewhat… Cantonese and some Mandarin… along with reading and writing some…”

I was about to say more when this white guy, newly revealed Independent Baptist Minister began to babble in Mandarin to me something about, “I speak Mandarin and am now studying it further…!”  Too funny! I laughed a little and replied in Cantonese… that,  “I only speak a little bit of Mandarin and only really speak Cantonese.”

He couldn’t understand me and looked a bit nonplus – I had one up on him. Two white guys speaking Chinese dialects and the old guy did a little better.  Note to self – there were no Chinese people within a 100 miles of where we were standing!

It was about then that all my previous babbling and explaining about a quiet Sunday afternoon was the way that they still lived… and the kids didn’t particularly like it but were doing what they were told. In all likelihood they were home schooled as well and not in contact with that other worldly bunch that went to shows and knew about Harry Potter.

It is highly likely that the Independent brand of Baptist stuff he was part of preached the need for severe Holiness and Hell was in the theater or whoever went to places like that.

Pentecostals used to be like that… but not so much anymore.

But then there is a severe brand of Baptist that simply know that Pentecostals are demon possessed because we speak in tongues (and not the Cantonese kind of tongue!).  No kidding I had one of my ‘Baptist Minister friends’ tell that on of his professors at the theological college he had attended gave his theological basis for Pentecostalism… demons.

Remember when I told you that I thought that, I had committed a foul in the “ministerial game of rightness”.  Well there was the reason… he knew I was different and now he knew why!

Thank God for the Grandpa. What gem.  He told me that he was once with the Postal Service in the USA, retired from that and then went to Bible College – now he was an Ordained Baptist Minister… and that he was delighted to meet me. “I am the same age as you and do similar things. It is really good to meet you! Praise the Lord!”  I think he must have some Pentecostal Minister Friends.

The Dad just looked at me… and I am not sure what he was thinking.  He told me a little more about his church efforts and that he was studying Mandarin on his own and had never been to China.

After they walked away I began wondering – was it the quiet all day Sunday story… or maybe the Harry Potter stuff… that was my biggest blunder?

(Note to self: look closer at the audience before you open your mouth and put your foot in… and when your one foot goes in – STOP – do not change Feet… it does not taste too good.)

~ Murray Lincoln ~

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