From "Maybe It's Just Me!"
I had to steal this story from my first book, I am reminded of it every Easter.
It was a beautiful crisp Sunday morning, sunrise over an Eastern Shore creek, with a crab fisherman working his lines from a traditional Eastern Shore crab boat in the background. Insufficiently dressed for the cold as usual, the entire Hagy clan shivered and shifted from foot to foot as we waited for the service to start.
This traditional service combined three Easton, MD. religious factions every year. Each year the sermon was given by a different denomination of Christianity. There was a Catholic Priest, an Episcopal Minister, and a Baptist Reverend from the mostly black church.
This year the sermon was delivered by the Episcopal Minister. The Priest offered a prayer, the Baptist read a scripture and the Episcopal Minister rose to give the Easter sermon. The priest sat on his left, the Baptist, ready to punctuate the sermon in the way common to the Black Baptist tradition, part dance, part religious rap, to his right; the Minister began his sermon.
“Friends, several years ago my lawn mower would not start”
“My wife informed me there was a repair shop 20 miles away in St. Michaels.”
“Praise the Saint”
At this point Marybeth, seven at the time, yanked on my coat horrified that the Baptist was rude and was being disrespectful of the service. She was not familiar with the Baptist point man tradition. I had to quietly assure her that “Praise God’s” were quite all right.
“It was noon Saturday and the shop closed at one. If I wanted it fixed, I needed to leave right away.”
“Tell it Rev“
“As I prepared to load the mower in my trunk, I was distracted by my daughter.”
“Praise the children”
“I then got into the car and was off to the repair shop.”
“Half way to the shop, I realized that because of the distraction”
“I might not have loaded the mower in the car.”
“Tell it Rev”
“Now I could not stop and go back home to see if I loaded the mower, because I would not have time before the shop closed”
I knew by the Baptist Minister missing a beat, that he was thinking what we all were thinking, “Dude, stop the car and check the trunk”. But the sermon went on.
“Should I go back and miss closing time, or continue on, having faith that the mower was in the trunk?”
“Faith, praise GOD”
Pull over and check the trunk, I thought with everyone else.
“I decided to continue on my way, with faith that the mower would be in the trunk.”
“When I arrived at the shop and checked the trunk my faith was rewarded.”
“The mower was in the trunk all along.”
“Tell it, Tell it”
“And so friends it is this same faith that brings us here today on this blessed Easter Sunday………….”
On the way home, after the service my brother Chris commented, “Well I guess someone had to give the worst Easter sermon ever.”
Note: For anyone who does not believe this story, three years later our family stood in frozen sunrise astonishment as this same minister delivered the exact same sermon. This time the Baptist did not miss a beat. Not even I would make that up.