In 1978, I was ordained to gospel ministry. To mark this special event, my parents surprised me with a new 1977 Dodge Aspen, most spectacular present I ever received. It was white, with a red interior and beautiful cloth seats.
My old car had so many glitches and problems I took it to a psychiatrist. Finally, I donated it to local junkyard and put it out of my misery.
At time, a woman who attended our church lived four blocks away but insisted I pick her up for church each Sunday. Being young and naive, not to mention I needed warm bodies to fill pews, I acceded to her request.
We called her Sister Claire and why she came to our church I never knew, but she faithfully attended each Sunday.
I picked her up just before morning worship service and escorted her to back pew. She rarely spoke to anyone and in all years I knew her never smiled. She was not kind of person you could get close to and cultivate confidences.
She always brought two quarters to church. One was for collection plate and other she gave to me for bringing her to church.
At first, I was reluctant to take it. She appeared to be tottering on brink of poverty and I felt guilty about taking her money. Nevertheless, she insisted.
One Sunday as I picked her up I noticed something different. I could not put my finger on it, but something was definitely different about Sister Claire.
I escorted her to her usual pew and heard a smattering of muffled snickers. One thing I cannot stand is being on outside circle of a joke.
Just before I went to pulpit to begin worship service my wife whispered, "Did you see Sister Claire's wig?"
I responded in typical pastoral fashion, "Huh?"
As I began service, I could not take my eyes off Sister Claire. I had never noticed her hair looking that bad. I began sermon segment of worship service and realized why everyone was laughing.
I started to giggle. I coughed, cleared my throat, bit my lower lip but nothing could evaporate giggle juices flowing through my entire body. Nothing is more pathetic than a giggle-doused minister trying to be serious and pastoral.
Sister Claire had her wig on backward. All I could think of were bad wig jokes and I did not know whether she was coming or going.
In all time I knew Sister Claire, she called me to come to her home only once. She seemed upset so I hurried over to her house. I sat down and she blurted out, ''Pastor, they won't let me in grocery store.''
I assured her I would look into situation. I knew manager of grocery store, so I stopped in to see him and clear up misunderstanding.
When I broached subject, manager stiffened and barked, "We have a court order against Claire ever coming into this store," with such conviction I realized it was something rather serious. Then he told me story.