Erroll Garner and Dinner at Church

Written by Roger Wright

Continued from page 1

Laura, a long, pressed blond hair, blue eyed daughter of a Rhode Island expert on arcane forms of venereal disease, was a “friend.” What that meant, back asrepparttar closing days ofrepparttar 143684 1960’s stretched on torepparttar 143685 early 1980’s, was that you putrepparttar 143686 word “friend” in quotes. And then you’d say, “No, really. We are really just friends.”

I was totally infatuated with her in that way that often keeps young people atrepparttar 143687 “friend” stage. Infatuated in that way that should somebody have told me she liked to put baby kittens in sacks and twirl them around her head (which looking back might not have been all that far fromrepparttar 143688 truth) ; but if somebody had told me that, I would have made up a reason why that was OK. So a visit from Laura was a big deal.

And seeing that Punnett’s house was small, I volunteered to sleep onrepparttar 143689 floor. Right next to my bed, which I of course would give to Laura.

That sleeping arrangement of course never happened. Thanks to Mr. Punnett. I remember his greeting Laura though as if she were absolute royalty. All throughrepparttar 143690 visit he was as nice, Mrs. Punnett might say, “he was “as nice as pie.” No one could have been nicer. But of course there were rules.

In Fellowship Hall inrepparttar 143691 basement ofrepparttar 143692 church, I had been givenrepparttar 143693 word that one big rule was to stay out ofrepparttar 143694 kitchen. “It gets too crazy in there.” I was told.

So as I bend down to peer throughrepparttar 143695 serving counters and in torepparttar 143696 kitchen, I just have one question. “Kathy, I ask, I’m watchingrepparttar 143697 alley outside tonight, but it’s pretty quiet. Anything I can help you with here?”

“Sure,” says Kathy, who is runningrepparttar 143698 show with Chuck. “We might be short a server. Hang on a second; we’re almost ready to go.”

And as I watch, I seerepparttar 143699 kind of operation that comes when every silver cylinder of a gleaming clean machine is firing full speed ahead. An operation run so well that you know just by looking thatrepparttar 143700 work had been started long before this second in time.

Mary Beth had mapped this out onrepparttar 143701 level of an executive chef. There was a structure and an order here. Kathy and Chuck wererepparttar 143702 perfect people to make this machine run, pulling this wonderful meal out ofrepparttar 143703 ovens –smells permeatingrepparttar 143704 place makingrepparttar 143705 long gone souls ofrepparttar 143706 German founders smile and say “Ahhhh!”

Geoff and Ruth makingrepparttar 143707 service line work, joining in and nowrepparttar 143708 four of them, Kathy, Chuck, Geoff and Ruth were like some sort of small orchestra just humming along. The plates presented like art, out throughrepparttar 143709 service counter.

Trudi andrepparttar 143710 crew now servingrepparttar 143711 good stuff. The warmth of this food just reverberating offrepparttar 143712 walls inrepparttar 143713 same dignified way that man inrepparttar 143714 alley’s whistling Misty had blended in torepparttar 143715 music ofrepparttar 143716 rain.

The service now done, andrepparttar 143717 meal now in crescendo; everyone was eating.

I went back outside inrepparttar 143718 soft rain to make my rounds again. No stray souls inrepparttar 143719 alley orrepparttar 143720 yards. No one onrepparttar 143721 front steps along Damen.

Turningrepparttar 143722 corner in front ofrepparttar 143723 church. Sitting inrepparttar 143724 front seat, passenger side, ofrepparttar 143725 car, door open his legs splayed out inrepparttar 143726 gutter, sun glasses and a pork pie hat inrepparttar 143727 rain.Staring up a tree branch and mumbling.

If Erroll Garner had beenrepparttar 143728 man back inrepparttar 143729 alley smiling---the man inrepparttar 143730 passenger seat ofrepparttar 143731 white station wagon with an Oklahoma license plate was Thelonius Monk. And he looked just as serious and angry.

So I said to Monk. “You eat yet?”

And he answered in a mumble on an accent that said Caribbean more than it said Oklahoma.

“I am looking atrepparttar 143732 branches ofrepparttar 143733 tree.”

Then he starts a diatribe where no one word seemed to have a relationship torepparttar 143734 one that came before. At least none that I could hear. At one point I break in torepparttar 143735 monologue and say, “You are welcome inrepparttar 143736 church!” and he answers with an indigent, West Indies anger, “I am not a shoemaker!”

Chuck comes out to take a quick break and greetsrepparttar 143737 man withrepparttar 143738 immediate respect and honor ofrepparttar 143739 street. The kind of greeting whererepparttar 143740 words don’t even matter. A greeting that says, “I know you are there. And I am offering respect.”

Butrepparttar 143741 man keeps rambling. We listen and nod for a moment or two, then say, we have to get back in side.

The Caribbean Thelonius now clear in his angry words, “Wait! Come back! Don’t go!” And Chuck answers as a matter of fact. “We got work here. I’m sorry. We don’t have time for this.”

And as Chuck and I walked back inside, he says, “That’s a lot of rum he’s had tonight. Maybe rock cocaine.” Shaking his head. “Out of control. Too bad.”

I remembered once being out of control. It was autumn. A midnight bus bound for Chicago pulling up torepparttar 143742 tiny station atrepparttar 143743 fringe of old Beloit Wisconsin. A crumbling Beloit Corporation factory belching third shift smoke and noise.

Across that 90 mile stretch of what was then mostly starlit open farmland tillrepparttar 143744 electric lights of O’Hare heraldedrepparttar 143745 coming ofrepparttar 143746 big city. No rock cocaine. But there was an awful lot of cheap cold Huber beer subsumed that night and I had done my share. Rolling intorepparttar 143747 old Randolph street bus station, a seedy bright neon 2:00 am. Then up on torepparttar 143748 El Train for rumbling trip up torepparttar 143749 Linden street station. Inrepparttar 143750 shadow ofrepparttar 143751 Bahai Temple. Nearrepparttar 143752 lake in Wilmette.

It was now 3:30 inrepparttar 143753 morning. No one up but me. And there were no trains or buses that went any further. I had no real way to get home on my own.

So at 3:30 inrepparttar 143754 morning---I woke up every Punnett inrepparttar 143755 house with that phone call. They knew who it was. Mr. Punnett of course said it was OK for Spencer to get inrepparttar 143756 car, come get me.

And bring me home.

Now back outsiderepparttar 143757 church inrepparttar 143758 soft rain on Damen, Mark—from Church—walks up.

“Hey, how’s it going?” I ask. “What are you doing here tonight?”

‘Oh, I just thought I’d stop by, see how things were going.”

And asrepparttar 143759 greater family who had all sat down to eat this holy meal together tonight drift out on torepparttar 143760 street and off by foot or bus,repparttar 143761 lovely sounds of Ruth’s piano drift out too. All of us so well fed in so many ways.

Mark and I stand and just chat. About everything and nothing.

Back inrepparttar 143762 alley, Erroll Garner’s notes of “Misty” still sound even asrepparttar 143763 rain slows down.

A small gust of wind blowsrepparttar 143764 church door closed and it automatically locks.

“Uh oh. I say. How will we get back in?”

“Don’t worry,” says Mark.

“We have a key.”

Roger Wright's Blog is CHURCH FOOD CHICAGO

A Live Church — Or A Dead One?

Written by Stephen Kingery

Continued from page 1

Live churches move out on faith. Dead churches operate totally by human sight. Jesus put it this way, "Let them alone. They are blind leaders ofrepparttar blind. And ifrepparttar 143605 blind leadsrepparttar 143606 blind, both will fall into a ditch." (Matthew 15:14) If we inrepparttar 143607 church try to do all that we do totally by human sight, we will be likerepparttar 143608 blind leadingrepparttar 143609 blind. We must step out on faith. We must seek those who need ministered to, then step out on faith and find a way to do God's will. And believe me, if we will do that, God will providerepparttar 143610 means to getrepparttar 143611 job done!

Live churches focus on people and their lives. Dead ones focus on programs. What will God say to us when we enter Heaven and are giving an accounting for our work here on earth and we tell Him about all these "wonderful programs" we developed? Will He say, "But who did you win for my kingdom?" What will WE SAY when not one name comes to our lips? God's work is about people, not programs! God's work is healing broken lives and bringing them back to Christ. God's work is feedingrepparttar 143612 poor both physically and spiritually. God's work is helpingrepparttar 143613 widow andrepparttar 143614 orphan. God's work is helpingrepparttar 143615 single mother raise her children and provide for them. God's work is caring forrepparttar 143616 homeless. How did Jesus put it? "Andrepparttar 143617 King will answer and say to them, 'Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one ofrepparttar 143618 least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.'" (Matthew 25:40) What are we,repparttar 143619 church, doing to these –repparttar 143620 least ofrepparttar 143621 brethren of Jesus? Whatsoever we are doing to (or for) them, we are also doing likewise torepparttar 143622 Savior.

Live churches are filled with tithers, dead ones are filled with tippers. Which are you? Just as we spoke ofrepparttar 143623 church as a whole must step out on faith to do God's work,repparttar 143624 same is true with us as individual Christians. How can we, as a body, say we must have faith and step forward withrepparttar 143625 church's finances when we are not willing to make sacrifices personally. It is plain inrepparttar 143626 Scriptures, we must put God first. That means with our money as well as our faith and talent. I have heard it said many times, "you can't out-give God", or "if you give sacrificially, God will bless you richly." Now really, is that why we should give of our tithe? It is true that God will provide for us! But our motivation for giving must be to bless others, not be blessed ourselves. Paul tellsrepparttar 143627 elders ofrepparttar 143628 church at Ephesus, "I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must supportrepparttar 143629 weak. And rememberrepparttar 143630 words ofrepparttar 143631 Lord Jesus, that He said, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'" (Acts 20:35) Let's not be giving of our tithes and offerings expecting to receive a blessing. Let's give freely withrepparttar 143632 intent that our tithes and offerings will provide an abundance of blessing to those about whom we have been speaking.

Lofty ideas? Perhaps. But what do you think Jesus would have us do? Be likerepparttar 143633 dead church which relives nightmares? Orrepparttar 143634 live church which dreams great dreams of God and working FOR His kingdom? Are we to be likerepparttar 143635 dead church which hasrepparttar 143636 word CAN'T as its most used word? Or likerepparttar 143637 live one which does not even have that word in its vocabulary? Are we to be likerepparttar 143638 dead church and respond to every new idea with, "We've never done it that way before."? Or will we say, "Here is a group of people who need our love and help. Let's find a way to minister to them."?

The choice is really ours. We can be part of a dead or dying church, or we can be part of a living, growing church which is on fire for God seeking out those who need our help, and then helping them. We can be part of a church which has a worship service which brings glory, praise and honor torepparttar 143639 Savior and our Heavenly Father. We can be part of a church which is a light inrepparttar 143640 community shinning forth for Jesus Christ. Have you ever heardrepparttar 143641 saying, "If you're not part ofrepparttar 143642 solution, you're part ofrepparttar 143643 problem."? How about you? How do you characterize YOUR congregation? Is it alive – or dying? Are you trying to be a part ofrepparttar 143644 solution, or are you part ofrepparttar 143645 problem? You will give an account some day to God for your part inrepparttar 143646 kingdom. And when you stand there to give your account, you will stand ALONE!

Remember — live churches evangelize, dead churches fossilize!

All Scriptures quoted are fromrepparttar 143647 New King James Version unless otherwise noted.

Stephen Kingery is an author, preacher, teacher and founder of The Home Bible Study Institute.

Visit our site at

Permission to use is granted if attributed to author and his website.

    <Back to Page 1 © 2005
Terms of Use