We’re pleased with our newly-arrived church bus, purchased through gifts of our members supporting the “Gifted Past, Bold Future” affirmation of our capital campaign last spring. Wanting to show off our new wheels, we parked it under the portico just outside the sanctuary front doors.
At launching, ships are christened with a bottle of champagne broken on their bow. Nobody in our crowd was willing to see champagne wasted in such a manner, so we sought an alternative ceremony. Thus, after worship, we baptized our bus with water balloons.
After the benediction, we hustled everyone outside to arm themselves double-barreled with loaded balloons. A statement of thanks to those whose contributions made the purchase possible; a brief prayer of dedication, then the command, “Let ‘em fly!”
That was the plan, anyway. Just as we started the prayer, the bus from a nearby Assisted Living Facility pulled up directly between our new vehicle and our gathered people. The facility’s old bus and their residents both have commensurate high mileage. The driver emerged to assist the residents who had finished worshiping with us that morning. This was not a lightning-fast procedure. But we waited patiently. Forever.
The driver guided each rider to a seat, loaded each walker, fastened each seat belt, then checked the tires and gave the vehicle a complete safety inspection. We waited patiently, but not so patiently as before.
Finally, the driver returned to the wheel, started the motor…and sat there. “What are you waiting for? Move it!” Then I saw: JoAnn, one of our elderly members, was standing directly in front of the loaded bus, gazing off in the other direction. “Miss JoAnn,” I yelled. “Get your oblivious _____ out of the way!” Fortunately, the people around us heard me say gently, “JoAnn, let me help you to a place where you won’t get bombarded by flying balloons.”
Honoring our fathers and mothers as we are commanded, is more challenging in practice than in theory. But because we were delayed, everybody arrived in time to participate. Everybody shouted a cheerful good-bye to our departing elders, thanking them for coming. Everybody witnessed those who attend worship faithfully, even when it is both inconvenient and exhausting.
Only a few noticed Miss JoAnn, reloading and tossing balloons until the final orb had been launched.