Apr 182019 6 Responses

The Church Member Who Regularly Cursed During My Sermon

I buried a friend. It’s a common experience as a pastor. Chances are I’ll bury more friends in two years than most people will in a lifetime. It’s both the privilege and the pain of the pastorate.

This friend will forever be known as the man who regularly cursed during my sermons.

I met this man and his wife when I first moved back to Fort Smith. Both were former Marines. Neither would match the typical image of traditional church members, but I quickly learned to love them both. Just a short time after my time on staff began, she was diagnosed with a horrific brain tumor. Her death was a real possibility if a major surgery didn’t work. Thankfully, a world-renown surgeon was within two hours of our town.

In the weeks leading up to the surgery, I visited with the couple wanting to ensure they were spiritually ready for any outcome. The surgery was two days. The doctor operated for 12 hours, left her open overnight, and then came back and operated another 8 hours the next day. And it was a great success.

That experience further deepened our bond. Every Sunday after the surgery, I had one job in this couple’s life…it was my responsibility to hug them. They loved the music. They slept through the sermon. But primarily, they came to worship for their hug.

As the couple continued to age, they both experienced medical issues. One Sunday, the wife began to feel bad. She was nauseated and needed to leave the service. The problem is that they were sitting in the third row. Since I was in the middle of my sermon, her husband was obviously asleep. So she quietly woke him. They thought they were whispering but at this point in their lives, they couldn’t realize they were speaking very loudly. “I’m not feeling well. I need to leave,” she said. “Well, let’s get the hell out of here,” he loudly proclaimed. The front ten rows of three sections died in laughter. Everyone could tell there was a commotion. I, not wanting to embarrass them, kept preaching while keeping a stone face so as not to burst out in laughter. (See: We Almost Killed Someone With a Flying Cross on Easter)

Several years after this episode, the wife died. As I entered the most serious and sentimental aspect of the funeral sermon, the husband’s phone began to ring. Once again as I was speaking, I tried to show no reaction and keep speaking as the husband cursed, “Oh s&#t, my phone.” He scrambled to get it out of his pocket and when he couldn’t stop the ringing, he loudly said, “How do I turn this damn thing off?”

In the year to follow his wife’s death, my friend quickly deteriorated. As he neared his end, I went to the hospital to see him. When I got to his room a nurse was inside so I waited in the hallway. As she left, I heard a woman’s voice in the room say, “You are being so cantankerous.” My friend responded in his gravely voice, “I think you people are messing with me.” I turned the corner and boldly pronounced, “If you want somebody to mess with you, that’s why I’m here.” I looked my friend in the eye only to realize, it wasn’t him. I was in the wrong room. He looked confused. I looked terrified. I quickly said, “I am so sorry, but I’m in the wrong room– God bless,” and I quickly left the room.

The next day he died. I texted a few church members about his death. One responded, “Well, I guess he just decided to get the hell out of here.”

For more, see:

Try Not to Curse During the Baby Dedication

On Changing Barbers and the First Time I Cussed


6 Responses to The Church Member Who Regularly Cursed During My Sermon

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