I had the surreal experience of hearing my older child (almost 22) deliver a sermon in a small country church on Father’s day.
Background. I did not want to go. It was 90 some odd miles away outside of Farmville, Virginia. The wife nagged, cajoled, browbeat and shamed me into going. I went on the premise that she had to drive so that I could sleep in the backseat on the way. But I still resented having to go.
We got there 15 minutes early, my daughter and I still groggy from sleeping all the way. My son and his young wife were standing out in the parking lot, looking even younger than they are. A dozen cars or less were scattered about the parking lot. I prepared for the worst.
I was pleasantly surprised at how friendly everybody was. Very informal, no coats or ties. And some kids were of obvious mixed race. This is outside Farmville, where some of the worst “Massive Resistance” occurred. One of the original lawsuits which culminated in Brown v. Board of Education was filed over the segregated Farmville Public School system that was “separate but equal” almost sixty years ago. Fifty-three years ago the Prince Edward Board of Supervisors refused to appropriate money for public schools and closed them down in response to the Brown Supreme Court decision. To see blacks and whites living in peace warmed my heart.
Son was asked to preach as a potential candidate for the new preacher. Old one is gone and church is looking for a replacement. I hope they don’t choose him, and if they do, I hope he does not take it. But I would never tell him that. I’m just basing it on my own experience. I wasn’t mature enough at thirty, let alone at twenty-one, to be the leader of a band of Christians. Nothing against my son–he is a great kid, but…
Anyway, he did a great job. He talks faster than I could ever dream of doing. No pauses. No “umms” or “ahhhs,” or “you know”s, or “and he was like”s or other irritating fillers. He barely relied on his notes. It was interesting. And he convicted me by saying what a great father I was and how influential I had been in his life–I know I’ve been a barely adequate father. I worked too often in his developmental years, then would often come home and veg with a beer in my hand and barely enough energy to give him any attention.
Basically, I worked and my wife did a great job of raising the kids. Yeah, my son developed my love of alcohol. Fortunately he waited until he was twenty-one. I started when I was twelve. I refused to ride a bike for his entire life, hoping that he would not inherit my love of motorcycles. As soon as he turned twenty-one, he bought one. He has several tattoos, which I despise. But he is a conservative, a Christian, a fine husband, and a wonderful person. I only wish my father and grandfather could see him now. They would be soooo proud.
Not to leave out my beautiful, perfect in every way daughter, but this article was more about my son. In the end, I’m glad we went, even though we did not get back from church until about 3:00 p.m. No, I won’t make a habit of going if the church selects him. I begrudgingly go to my own church an hour a week.
p.s. Yes, I’m a Christian. I just don’t like church very much. Perhaps if they made it more masculine. Or if we held it out on the golf course. Or we could have it Saturday night with a couple of rounds of beer on the house. But that is a topic for another day.