by Rick Jones, Husband of the Minister's Wife
For about 10 years, I was part of a group of ministers who organized a weekend event called JoyFest as part of the community Independence Day festivities. Local bands, church “praise and worship” teams and solo artists would perform with an amazing range of musical styles. Another feature of JoyFest was the food: people would bring in a variety of dishes and local organizations donated generously – hundreds of packages of brats and buns, dozens of watermelons, coolers of lemonade and cases of bottled water. Volunteers cooked and served the food. Everyone, whether they brought food or not, enjoyed the free meal and good conversation.
One pastor would rent and operate a cotton candy machine. He'd let me help because he figured that since I'm diabetic, I wouldn't eat much of the product. He was far too trusting.
I enjoyed bringing in books. Over the course of a year I would slowly accumulate a substantial amount of Christian literature, and display it with a sign: “Free Books Etc” [the “Etc” included magazines, DVDs and music]. I liked to watch people look through the variety and pick a title or two, and even saw people reading while eating.
But I usually watched from a distance and stayed away from the display except when restocking it, because every year that I stood near the books there would be at least one person who would look at the sign, look through what was available, then engage me in basically the same conversation:
“Oh . . . how much are they?”
“Okay. But what do they cost?”
“Like the sign says, they're free.”
“Oh . . . cool! Umm . . . how much do you want for them?”
By that point, I started thinking things like, “Why does this guy want a book when he can't even read and comprehend a three-word sign?” and “I could be eating watermelon and bratwurst right now,” which is wasn't very Christian, and neither joyful nor festive.
Not exactly the mood we were trying to encourage.
Fortunately, at JoyFest it was easy to improve my attitude through three simple steps:
1. Pray for patience;
2. Count – and share – my blessings;
3. Consume bratwurst.
By the way, since last Friday's article had a serious tone, I wrote an extra, more lighthearted piece which we posted on Tuesday. Look for it under “Special Tuesday Edition.”