When my children were little, they occasionally were boisterous in church. We sat in front of a man named George and his wife Jean. They were very nice people, but George, then in his late 70’s, was approaching crochety, the time when young children being children, becomes highly annoying to some people. Almost every week, George found it necessary to cast a disapproving eye on my children. Maybe they were piling up hymnals and seeing how many they could sit on, or whispering loudly to each other, or trying to see each others’ tonsils, or tasting the crayons that came with the children’s bulletin. At least we were in church as a family. That was my theory anyway.
One Sunday in Advent, Pastor Gary was preaching the second in his “Jesus is the Reason for the Season” sermon series. His theme was John the Baptist’s pointing toward Jesus, “I baptize you with water, but one is coming who will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with Fire, whose sandals I’m not fit to untie.” Right in the middle of his poignant plea that we leave consumerism behind and turn inward for a deeper celebration of Jesus’ Advent, George’s Christmas tie malfunctioned and began playing “Santa Claus is coming to town” in bright, pounding tones that pierced the quiet, reverent air. Gary, a mild mannered man, sighed and looked toward the ceiling to wait it out. George and his wife frantically tried to find the off button on the back of the tie. When they finally, after several seconds, shut it off, he whispered to his wife in a stage hiss everyone in the congregation could hear, “I don’t think anyone heard that, do you?”
Well, I did, and I had to smile. Vindication! And maybe a sermon illustration.