History of Church Seating

April 14, 2021 by  
Filed under Humor, Stories

By Carol Barnier –

It’s happening again. Another local church is talking about ditching the traditional pews in favor of something more plush and comfortable. I really feel uneasy about this. I’m pretty sure I read somewhere in Leviticus a warning about the ungodliness of a relaxed posterior and the slippery slope of comfortable worship.

Amazingly, the idea of sitting in church didn’t even emerge until the Reformation. It’s true! Up till that time, those poor German peasants worked hard all week long and then went to church on the day of rest to do what? STAND and listen to a sermon in a language they didn’t even speak. You may not have known this, but when Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the church in Wittenburg, thesis number 58 was, “It’s time to let us sit down in church for crying out loud!”

In some churches today you’ll see kneelers. These little flip down steps of wonder were put in place for the ease of congregants whose church liturgies involved more and more kneeling. But no such devices can be found in the earliest church structures. That’s because the preferred submission position was prostrate (face down, flat on the ground) and the early church architects felt a flip down panel accommodating this practice would require too much space between the pews. Besides, early attempts of this device revealed a flaw that sometimes catapulted would-be-supplicants up and over the altar.

Eventually kneeling did emerge as the preferred method of humility. However, for quite some time, the earliest congregations needed no such kneelers. They were of hardier stock and found the cold solid stone against their knees refreshing. But then the Church Potluck was introduced and folks began having problems with the getting back up part. Enter: the kneelers. Followed by kneelers not quite so close to the ground. Then, the padded kneelers. Then ,the intricately needle-pointed padded kneelers. I think heated gel pads and a lift ticket are the next obvious mutation.

Now seating is growing more and more like expensive theatrical events. Stain resistant. Deeply cushioned. Padded armrests. Sometimes even with cup holders. I fully expect this trend toward more technology will eventually include an electronic circuitry panel embedded into the backs of the seats in front of us allowing us to provide constant assessment and feedback of the pastor’s efforts.

My current level of interest….hmmm…my mind did wander just a bit there. I’ll give him a 4. Clearly he’s trying. But that passage about Cain and Able could have used a bit more action and drama. A video clip would have been nice. Well, maybe just a 3 then.

I’m thinking we’ve got this backwards. The technology should be on the side of the preacher. If we begin to whisper and be distracted or start nodding off, he would have several buttons of wonder at his disposal. First offense, the chair simply vibrates. Sort of a you’ve-been-warned sensation. The second option would be a sort of elevator that lifts you up over the crowd a good three feet, so that others will know of your transgressions. For the really offensive congregants or those who’ve completely gone to sleep, I’m thinking a mild seat-imbedded tazer is in order.

Okay, perhaps a bit much. But you know what they say.  If you laid all the sleepers in church end-to-end along the pews … they’d be a lot more comfortable.

Smoky the Baptist Rides Again

April 10, 2021 by  
Filed under Humor, Stories

By Connie Cavanaugh –

“I hate camping,” my husband confessed, late one night.

“You hate camping? Since when? We’ve camped for years!”

“I know,” he admitted. “But I’ve never liked it.”

“You’re the one who researched space efficient camping equipment and bought all those supplies,” I declared. I couldn’t believe my ears. We had camped all across the country with three kids. Everything fit into the trunk of a Volkswagen.

“I like research,” he said. “But not camping. I do it for the kids.”

Our kids loved camping. These adventures were the highpoint of their summer.

We were in a pickle. Not only had we promised our kids we would go camping as soon as school let out, we planned to go with another couple.

We finally concluded that tent camping was too rustic. Perhaps if we brought along a few more comforts, we would enjoy it more. The day we arrived at our campsite we looked like a Saharan camel train. Our van was stuffed, had a bulging topper strapped to the roof and we pulled a huge pop-up trailer.

When we got to our site, within ten minutes our bicycle camping companions, who carried everything in two backpacks and four saddlebags were finished. They erected their pup tent, slung a hammock between two trees, and made tea on what looked like a Bunsen burner. They sipped and watched as we constructed our forest kingdom.

It took three hours to assemble the trailer, the tent, and the screened gazebo for our camp kitchen. We looked like a feeding station for tornado victims. By the time we were done, it was late and everyone was hungry.

Dad got ready to fire up the Coleman stove on the picnic table inside the gazebo. The first “firing” of the season was usually worth watching. We dubbed him Smoky the Bear since he had stomped out many a potential forest fire that resulted from his pyrotechnics. Smoky’s method was to pump the stove until it threatened to burst and then stand back and toss a lit match. The explosion was spectacular. After the mushroom cloud dissipated, the small burner would flame merrily and we would cook dinner.

But this time, something malfunctioned. Kaboom! Flames shot up and out. Only this time, they kept shooting.

Smoky grabbed a beach towel to use as oven mitts. Gingerly he picked up the stove and, dancing like the great Ali, struggled through the tiny zippered opening in his attempt to save the gazebo. Once outside he doused the inferno with water and stomped on the smoldering towel.

He mopped his sweaty brow with the charred towel and looked up to where we were all standing, watching him with grateful amazement. This had been the best annual fireworks display to date. Slowly, we began to applaud.

”Whew!” he exclaimed. “I almost didn’t make it through that dinky doorway. Maybe we should leave it fully unzipped from now on in case this happens again.” The kids and I had noticed that the explosion had melted one entire mesh wall in the gazebo. You could drive a car through the hole that resulted.

“Oh that’s ok,” one of the smart alecks quipped, pointing. “Leave it zipped. We can use this new opening. It’s much bigger.”

Knowing he could never outdo this performance without risking hectares of prime forest, we made that camping trip our swan song. Nowadays we “camp” in an RV at a national park where open fires are not allowed.

Furry Friend

April 4, 2021 by  
Filed under Humor, Stories

By Karen O’Connor –

One morning as I reached for my breakfast food in the back of my station wagon at a campground in the Sierra Mountains, I noticed that several of the plastic bags had holes in them. One in particular was badly punctured. I had filled it with various nuts and dried fruits. When I picked it up, most of the contents fell out.

How strange. I was certain I’d put this mix in a brand new zippered bag. “Oh well, I’ll deal with this later,” I muttered. It was time for the group’s morning hike and I didn’t want to be late.

My friends and I returned to our site that afternoon and I opened my car to take out a snack and some water. To my surprise several more bags were full of holes. Even my Kleenex tissues were perforated. I assumed it was an insect and let it go. Flies and mosquitoes were all around so I chalked it up to life in the outdoors.

At the end of the week we broke camp and said our good-byes. Then I drove down the mountain to the motel where I planned to spend the night before heading home the following day.

I organized my gear, did a couple loads of laundry, ate dinner, and headed for bed. The next morning when I opened my car a terrible stench hit my nose. What is that? I wondered. I didn’t have any fresh food in the car so I was really puzzled.

Then suddenly I noticed a small furry creature curled up in a little open box I had left on the floor of the back seat. A long tail hung over the edge. A field mouse. “Eeek!” I shrieked and shivered at the sight. Poor fella must have snuck in when my car was open, and then died in the extreme heat of the day after I locked my car.

“Help!” I called to one of the employees at the motel. “A dead mouse. I can’t bear to touch it. Would you please remove it for me?”

The man chuckled, reached in, and carried the little guy, box and all, to the trash container. I thanked him and off he went. But then I had a shame attack. It was just a field mouse, after all. Why did I make such a big deal out of it? He was one of God’s creatures, too. And if the Lord could make a place for him on the earth, surely I could allow him to help himself to a few nuts and berries.

“But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish in the sea inform you.
Which of all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this?
In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind” (Job 12:7-10 NIV).

Faith, Family and Freedom

March 30, 2021 by  
Filed under Humor, Stories

By Judy Davis –

I noticed once again how beautiful our country is as our family traveled on vacation. We passed through the rugged mountains of Tennessee, the blue grass of Kentucky, and the amber waves of grain in Indiana.

While visiting Ruby Falls, in Lookout Mountain Tennessee, a lady leaned over my shoulder and whispered, “How can anyone see this and not believe there is a God?” My granddaughter softly spoke pointing to her chest, “God is real and He lives right here in my heart.” The lady laughed and said, “You are so right my child, don’t ever lose the child that is in you.”

Later, I thought of the lady and her words realizing it’s not that we don’t believe there’s a God, but do we know Him? How can we know Him if we don’t read His Word? If we begin each day reading our Bible with a joyful attitude, it can break bondages of despair.

America seems to have forgotten the Bible but our founding fathers knew the value of the Bible as the foundation of morality. George Washington said, “It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible.” Abraham Lincoln said, “I believe the Bible is the best gift God has ever given to man.” Patrick Henry said, “The Bible is worth all the other books which have ever been printed.”

Years ago our former president Bill Clinton spoke the following at the state of the union address. “Let’s be honest. Our problems go way beyond the reach of any government program. They are rooted in the loss of values, the disappearance of work, and the breakdown of our families and communities. We cannot renew our country when, within a decade, more than half of our children will be born into families where there is no marriage.”

Look at our nation today and this is exactly what has happened. Our leaders need to wake up and move forward ruling under the admonition of the Lord. America is beautiful, but has many problems. What can we do? We can start where we are by taking it back to basics, back to truth, back to honor, back to character, back to integrity, back to morality, back to work ethics, and back to the Bible.

“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land (2 Chronicles 7:14).

Driving Me Crazy

March 26, 2021 by  
Filed under Humor, Stories

By Kim Stokely –

I pulled up behind a minivan today while waiting for a red light. Through the rear window I could see the glow of a television screen.

I sighed.

Not that I begrudge you if you own such a decked out vehicle, but oh, how I remember the simpler days when parents had to listen to inane children’s songs over and over again on rides around town. Like prisoners in a torture chamber, those of us who survived Raffi’s “Baby Beluga” a hundred times-a-day became tougher parents; able to withstand the onslaught of the latest teen sensation without batting an eyelash.

And if your child is watching television while you’re driving, you no longer have to endure the constant barrage of questions I remember so well:

“Mom! Where are we going?”

“The store.”

“Why?”

“Because we’re out of milk.”

“Why?”

“Because you and your father and your sister drank it all.”

“Why?”

“Because you like it.”

“Can we get a toy at the store?”

“No.”

“Why not?” Sniffle, sniffle.

“Because it’s a grocery store, they sell food, not toys.”

“Why?”

“Because they do.”

“But why?”

“I don’t know why. They just do.”

“They do what?”

“They…uh…they…” I’d completely forgotten what we were talking about. “Because.”

But lest my train of thought get permanently derailed, I’d get kicked from behind by a light up sneaker. The blue and red LEDs flashing in the rearview mirror like lights on a police car. “Why don’t they sell toys at the food store?”

And our conversation would circle back around like an airplane in a holding pattern.

I feel sorry for those who no longer take pleasure in a four-year-old’s random thoughts. I learned a lot about my kids on those rides when we had errands to run and doctor’s appointments. No one can enjoy a puffy cloud like a child. Or dump trucks on a construction site. And a trip through the car wash became a wild, underwater adventure with giant blue squids and hurricanes.

Without a television to distract us, car rides also became lessons in faith for myself as well as my kids. Nothing makes you hold your tongue quicker than a precocious two-year-old. Instead of letting loose with my anger, I often found myself yelling, “God…bless that man and help him get to wherever he’s going safely!” and “Please God, not another red light.” A premier parking spot in the pouring rain became a time of praise, “Thank you, Jesus!”

As my kids are now old enough to drive themselves, I have a new perspective on God’s sense of time. Psalm 90:4 reminds us, “…a thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by” (NIV). When you’re in the midst of diapers and play dates you can’t believe you’ll ever miss the chatter, the clutter and the constant attention your kids demand. But I know I do. Perhaps I’ll dig through the basement, I’m sure I’ve got an old Raffi CD hiding in a box down there. If not, maybe I’ll download a song or two and drive around town singing “Baby Beluga” for old times’ sake.

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