The rural, steel mill town church I served in northeastern Ohio had a standing tradition of the Mother’s Day Banquet.
Many churches and organizations in that area do, and these events are usually held the night before Mother’s Day. They are wonderfully attended.
Can you blame me, then, when I decided to assent to our worship committee’s suggestion of a Father’s Day cookout after worship on that esteemed June Sunday?
If you are a male reading this, you may now put your hand to your forehead, and look upward in dismay. I did the same thing, mentally, but went along with it anyway. The worship committee chair was a woman; she would have no way of knowing better.
As a guy, I should have. But we forged ahead.
The first clue might have come when the sign-up sheet was a total blank. From the looks of that 8-by-11 piece of paper, one would have thought no one was planning on attending. The week before the event, there was one person signed up: Bill. Bill was Becky’s father. Becky was the chair of the worship committee.
Ohioans, like New Mexicans, are not responsive to the formality of a sign-up sheet, so we forged ahead, convinced that many would show, though few would commit.
I could not get any members of the “greatest senior high group in the world” to commit to cooking and waiting tables. That was a surprise, as this was a group of kids who would be game if I said “Let’s go swimming in Lake Erie in October.” (Yes, we really did.)
Seems their fathers all had other plans. Minus the youth group, we forged ahead.
Since my parents lived only a couple of hours away, and sometimes visited on special days, I called my dad to ask him if he’d like to come to our Father’s Day cookout. Unfortunately, he, my uncle and my cousin had already acquired tickets for the a Pirates-Reds baseball doubleheader that was being played in Pittsburgh. They had neglected to invite me because we were planning this Father’s Day cookout.
I should have seen strike three, but we forged ahead.
The great day came, and on the lawn, in the rear of the church, the attendees began lining up after worship. It was a 90-degree, Ohio-humid day. There were a handful of people. Two of them were male. One was the aforementioned Bill. The other was Becky’s 5-year-old son, who was whining to his grandpa that he’d promised to take him swimming. Bill kept telling him to be quiet, it would be over soon and then they’d go swimming.
I thought I saw redemption, as my three best friends in the church — John, Jim, and Dave — had waited around in the parking lot. The smallest of them, Dave, was 6-foot-2, and on this day, they looked oddly intimidating, tapping their feet and crossing their arms. Cheerfully, I asked, “Hey guys, you ready for the picnic?”
John rumbled, “Did you forget something?” “No, everything’s set up,” I said.
“Did you forget we were supposed to go golfing, then head for Beaver Creek?” John said.
The upshot was, they teed off without me, I joined them on the 10th hole, and limited out on trout at Beaver Creek, so the day could have gone much worse.
Clyde Davis is pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Portales and a college instructor. He can be contacted at: