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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A Priest, A Reverend, A Rabbi, and... a Bear? (or Thank You Pastor Tom)

There are many things I love about my pastor, Dr. Tom McCoy. He's fiery, not quite the hellfire and brimstone type of fiery (although he does a remarkably believable impression) but fiery enough to make it stick. He is spirit filled and pours it over his congregation every Sunday morning. I love that he is dynamic and runs a come-as-you-are house of God. I love that he doesn't wear a tie OR a suit most Sundays (and before your mind goes there, yes, he does wear clothes - he's not Isaiah for goodness sake - Isaiah 20:1-4 for those of you trying to figure that one out). I love how transparent God made him so that the rest of us could see that he is just like us. I love that Pastor Tom is there, not for impression or judgment, but to bring God’s message to His children. And most of all, I love him for the truth he isn't afraid to speak.

But there’s another side to Pastor Tom. It’s the if-I’d-failed-seminary-I’d-have-become-a-comedian Tom. I love that he is not easily embarrassed, or Sunday morning wouldn’t be nearly as entertaining. I love the playful banter and teasing he shares with his wife which, he probably doesn’t even realize, encourages the rest of us in our sometimes crazy marriages. I love that no other pastor in the world can do a Mick Jagger impression like my pastor can – that is, if you can mute his singing (that’s a comedy show all its own). I love that occasionally he passes a joke along to us, in the way that only Pastor Tom can, that has us and him laughing hysterically as we ask ourselves, can you really say that in church?

I love that my pastor isn’t afraid to laugh. I love that my pastor is a Christian who isn’t afraid to laugh. I love that my pastor is a Christian who isn’t afraid to laugh in church and gives us all the freedom to laugh with him. So thank you, Pastor Tom, for Thompson Station Church. Thank you for your authenticity. Thank you for the laughs that entertain us and draw us in, but thank you most of all for the theology you teach us and the inspiring way you share the truth that is God’s message because that's what keeps us coming back.

Enjoy this great joke Pastor Tom colorfully passed on to us a couple of years ago and had us asking ourselves, can you really say that in church?:

(I am sharing the actual joke I found on the internet. I could not find credit information. If you know who wrote it, please pass it along so I can credit them here).

A priest, a Pentecostal preacher and a Rabbi all served as chaplains to the students of Northern Michigan University in Marquette.

They would get together two or three times a week for coffee and to talk shop. One day, someone made the comment that preaching to people isn't really all that hard. A real challenge would be to preach to a bear.

One thing led to another and they decided to do an experiment. They would all go out into the woods, find a bear, preach to it,and attempt to convert it.

Seven days later, they're all together to discuss the experience. Father Flannery, who has his arm in a sling, is on crutches, and has various bandages, goes first."Well," he says, "I went into the woods to find me a bear. And when I found him I began to read to him from the Catechism. Well, that bear wanted nothing to do with me and began to slap me around. So I quickly grabbed my holy water, sprinkled him and Holy Mary Mother of God, he became as gentle a lamb. The bishop is coming out next week to give him first communion and confirmation."

Reverend Billy Bob spoke next. He was in a wheelchair, with an arm and both legs in casts, and an IV drip. In his best fire and brimstone oratory he claimed, " WELL brothers, you KNOW that we don't sprinkle! I went out and I FOUND me a bear. And then I began to read to my bear from God's HOLY WORD! But that bear wanted nothing to do with me. So I took HOLD of him and we began to wrestle. We wrestled down one hill, UP another and DOWN another until we came to a creek. So I quickly DUNKED him and BAPTIZED his hairy soul. And just like you said, he became as gentle as a lamb. We spent the rest of the day praising Jesus."

They both looked down at the rabbi, who was lying in a hospital bed. He was in a body cast and traction with IV's and monitors running in and out of him. He was in bad shape.

The rabbi looked up and painfully whispered, "Looking back on it, circumcision may not have been the best way to start things out with my bear."


  1. Sue said...

    LOL... that joke is hysterical! Your pastor must be a riot on Sunday mornings! It sounds like a very down-to-earth church you go to! Very cool. We love our pastor too - he and his wife have become very dear friends of ours!

    Have a great day :-)