The Offering Plate

In my little blogging world one random idea often leads to another, and soon a theme emerges. After I posted “Choosing My Religion” on Monday, a piece prompted by a sun beam shining through clouds on a stormy day, the feedback I received here and on Facebook dredged up some long buried church-related memories.

As I recounted in “Choosing My Religion” I grew up attending three varieties of Protestant churches: Pentecostal, Primitive Baptist, and Southern Baptist. While the three were quite different in terms of worship volume and decorum, ranging from the jubilant, yet often apocalyptic tone of the Pentecostals to the solemn certainty of the Primitive Baptists, they all three shared one thing in common–the offering plate.

At some point in every service the preacher would intone an offertory prayer and the choir and/or the congregation would commence singing an offertory hymn while the deacons passed the plates. There was a rhythm to the plate passing and an order to it that made this one of my favorite parts of the service.

A person sitting on the end of an aisle would take the plate from the deacon in one hand, deposit money with his or her free hand and then pass the plate on to the next person and so on until the plate was handed to another deacon at the end of the pew. It was a beautiful thing to behold.

No matter which church I happened to be attending on any given Sunday I always had a bit of money to contribute, either from my own allowance or from one of the adults in my life. Usually I had a quarter, sometimes only a nickel, but occasionally I was able to give a whole dollar. Those were proud days indeed, although, we were taught that excessive pride was a sin, so I squelched the chest puffing and smile that went with placing a buck in the bucket.

One Sunday when I was five or so I was with my Grandma and Grandpa Hall at their little Pentecostal Church in Floydada, Texas. Just before the service started my bladder told me urgently that I needed to potty. My no-nonsense Grandma took me firmly by the hand and marched me back to the ladies’ room, accompanying me inside so as to hurry me up. I might have had a reputation for lollygagging, and she was having none of that on her watch.

I placed the two quarters I had for the offering plate on the back of the toilet, did my business, and went to flush, accidentally knocking my money into the toilet. Thankfully I hadn’t pressed the handle, so a tsk-tsking Grandma had me pull a handful of toilet paper off the roll to keep my hands dry while I retrieved the coins, all the time trying to get me to hurry.

When I bent to pick up the coins with one hand using the toilet paper as a shield, I leveraged my free hand on the side of the toilet and accidentally pushed the handle, flushing the quarters. I started crying, but Grandma Hall got tickled. This stern woman laughed as she dried my tears. She laughed until tears of her own rolled down her cheeks.

I washed my hands and walked solemnly back to my seat, chagrined at having nothing for the offering plate that week. Seeing my Grandma laugh that hard, though, more than compensated for the lack of funds. It’s still one of my best memories of her.

Peace, people.

How Do You Like Your Eggs

While Studly Doright played golf on Saturday morning I watched the 1936 film, “The Plainsman,” starring Gary Cooper as Wild Bill Hickok and Jean Arthur as Calamity Jane. The old movie wouldn’t be deemed politically correct nowadays with its portrayal of Native Americans as aggressive savages and women as nothing more than flies in the ointment of men’s lives, but it wasn’t without humor.

In one scene Gary Cooper asked another cowboy how he liked his eggs. “Well,” said the man. “I like them just fine.”

I couldn’t help but giggle. Studly walked in about that time and asked me what was so funny. He’s an aficionado of good one liners, so he got a chuckle out of the egg quip, as well. I then recalled the first time anyone asked me how I liked my eggs.

I’d gone with my grandparents to Houston to see the oldest of their three children, my Uncle Jack. I might’ve been five, and I adored Uncle Jack. He lovingly called me a little jackass–which I, in turn, took to calling others, much to my parents’ chagrin.

On one morning of this trip Uncle Jack treated us to breakfast at an International House of Pancakes. I’d never been to one before, and it was the most wonderful place I’d ever seen. The variety of pancakes on the menu was staggering. I took my time choosing just the right item. As I recall I ordered a combo that featured a pancake festooned with strawberries and whipped cream, along with bacon and eggs.

When the waitress took my order she asked, “How do you like your eggs.”

In my sweetest five year old voice I responded, “Cooked, please.”

Everyone, my uncle, my grandparents, even the waitress, laughed. My Nanny quickly told the waitress that I liked my eggs over easy, but I was mortified. I didn’t order eggs any way other than scrambled for many years after. I was a sensitive kid, you know.

Now, many years later I can marvel at how naive I was. How do I like my eggs? Well, I like them just fine.

Peace, people!

Happy Father’s Day

This was originally posted on Sunday, June 17, 2016.

Gerald Delane Hall 

Husband

  

Father

  
Grandfather    

Brother
  

Son 

Great grandfather
  
Friend 
A special man, my dad, not perfect, heck, he didn’t even try to be. But he was fun:

–Teller of inappropriate jokes, and a gambling fool.

–Measurer of miles in terms of six packs consumed.

–Lacking political correctness, yet treated everyone as an equal.

–Maker of friends wherever he went.

–Soft of heart.

–My biggest fan.

I miss this man.