Let me tell you a story about a guy I know….
He is a few years older than me…
When he was younger people used to say that he was “slow”
Some said he was “special”
I heard somebody say that his momma dropped him on his head when he was a baby
I don’t know if that’s true
But I do know that we are all endowed with certain “special” gifts
Even those amongst us that are called “slow”
The friend I am talking about here is named Wayne
I don’t know what this says about the public school system in Alabama
But Wayne graduated from High School with the same class he entered first grade…
There weren’t any “special” schools for people like Wayne at the time, they had to make it in regular school and Wayne, although not at the top of his class, graduated just like anybody else.
His Momma and Daddy, Pauline and Paul were so proud
Immediately after High School Wayne got a job at the local Reynolds Aluminum plant as a janitor, although he is quick to point out that he was a “custodial engineer”.
But what he was, was a janitor.
Wayne recently retired after 35 years as a “custodial engineer” at the Reynolds Aluminum Plant
In thirty five years he missed three days
Three Days in Thirty Five years
He missed those three days because as he said “I was down sick”
When he wasn’t a “custodial engineer” he works his momma and daddy’s farm where he has lived since the day they brought him home from the hospital
He cuts the grass at their local church and at the church cemetery where they have attended every Sunday since before Wayne was born.
Wayne has been cutting the grass at the church and taking care of the cemetery for over forty years
Without asking for anything in return
No money, no recognition, no nothing
Wayne has been offered money by the church several times for his services…
He has refused each time
Because as Wayne says “That wouldn’t be right, I’m a doing this for the Lord”
That’s the nice thing about “special” people like Wayne
They don’t have any mental filters like the rest of us do
He has no overarching agenda
He isn’t trying to get ahead of you in life
He isn’t trying to screw you out of a dime
He isn’t talking about you behind your back
Those concepts are alien to him
Even though he doesn’t talk all that much; He just says what he means and means what he says
Case in point….
Recently their local church got a “new” pastor
They had another “new” pastor last year in November
The Pastor and his family were from Indiana
The Sunday before the “Iron Bowl” the Pastor from Indiana noticed that everyone wasn’t in their usual seats.
The members of the church this Sunday morning were either setting on one side of the aisle or the other
One Side Alabama Families
One Side Auburn Families
The pastor from Indiana asked from the pulpit
“Why has everyone moved around this Sunday Morning?”
Someone shouted from the back of the church “It’s Iron Bowl week”
The pastor from Indiana said….
“You people make too much over football down here”
He and his family were gone the next week
So the church got a young pastor from Rome Georgia
It was rumored that he was a Georgia Bulldog man, but that was alright with the congregation
The “new” pastor is a wonderful, energetic guy with a great wife and two beautiful little girls
After a few weeks the Pastor asked in a church business meeting who takes care of the grounds of the church and the cemetery, because they are always perfectly maintained.
The Deacons of the church told him that Wayne does it.
The pastor asked how long Wayne had done this for the church
They told him over forty years and that he refused to be paid for his services
The young pastor was amazed and wanted to do something special for Wayne to acknowledge his hard work all these years.
He suggested to the Deacons that he make Wayne an usher at the Church, who could help people to their seats, pass out the Sunday Program and assist the Deacons with communion and passing the collection plate.
The Deacons readily agreed
The Pastor went to Paul and Pauline’s house that afternoon to tell Wayne the news….
The pastor was careful not to say that this had anything to do with all of Wayne’s work on the church grounds or cemetery, for fear that Wayne would reject the offer. So he just said that the Church board needed “another” usher and that his name was selected from the congregation, voted on by the board and was a unanimous selection.
To say that the family was proud would be an understatement
But I think Wayne said it best when he said….
“I’m mighty proud of this honor; I won’t let no one down”
Wayne doesn’t spend much money although he probably has more money than Ernest Tubb
But he purchased a new suit and a pair of dress shoes as we say in the South just for this auspicious occasion
Everything went as planned…..
Wayne escorted little old ladies to their seats on the appropriate pews
He handed out the Sunday Morning programs to everyone…
He took his seat with his Momma and Daddy like he always did…
Then it was time to pass the collection plate for the Sunday service
Wayne passed it down one aisle of a pew….
Picked up another plate and passed it down another isle
Everything went well….
Until a man in three piece suit didn’t put anything in the collection plate and passed the plate…
I failed to mention earlier that Wayne doesn’t know how to whisper or lower his voice….
When the man failed to put anything in the collection Wayne said in a booming voice
“You ought to be a putting something in that plate, the Lord’s been a good to you this week”
The man sheepishly reached into his wallet and put something in the collection plate as the other parishioners looked on in quiet shock.
Well as you might imagine, there were a few complaints from the parishioners and from the man in the three piece suit about Wayne assisting with the passing of the collection plate and they requested that he no longer be allowed to perform those duties for the church.
Maybe they didn’t like feeling convicted
But whatever the reason the young Pastor reluctantly agreed, but was adamant about honoring the work Wayne had done and continued to do. So he appointed Wayne as a Sunday School Teacher with the little kids in the Church.
The little children love Wayne and he loved them too, maybe because they are a lot alike.
Both of them lack the “mental filters” and just say what’s on their minds
None the less, everything was going great with the children’s Sunday school class and the children and the parents of the children bragged on Wayne every chance they got.
You know wisdom is a funny thing sometimes; it can come from the most unlikely of sources.
The Sunday school teacher for the high school teenagers was running late on Sunday morning and someone inadvertently asked Wayne to step in and take the teenagers class until she could arrive.
Wayne took his children’s Sunday school lesson that Sunday on Noah’s Ark to teach the teenagers.
I was visiting my ole town that Sunday and went to see Wayne in Sunday school.
When I heard he had gotten switched to the class with the teenagers it scared me, because we “know” how teenagers can be sometimes, so I ran down the hall to the class and slipped into the back of the class were Wayne couldn’t see me.
I seemingly got there just in the nick of time….
A small group of teenage boys trying to impress some young girls in the class were trying to tongue tie Wayne with the story of Noah’s Ark by bombarding him with a variety of questions at once.
When the questions started from the boys I was about to jump in to save Wayne “until” I took the time to “listen” to Wayne’s answers to the questions…..
”So how did animals just happen to come to the ark two by two?”
”Well the Good Lord made them all I reckon he can call them whenever he wants”
”How did all those animals eat on the ark for forty days and forty nights?”
”The Good Lord feeds flowers in the desert and tadpoles in a mud hole he knows how do things we don’t know because he’s God”
“How come a wooden boat didn’t sink in a storm like that for forty days and forty nights?”
(Wait for it)
“Well, all I know is the Titanic was built by professionals and Noah’s Ark was built by amateurs, one sunk and the other one didn’t”
Wayne didn’t need me to come to his rescue
His simple wisdom silenced his critics and teenage tormentors without a witty comeback from me
I wish I was more like that
But that aside, that leads us to last Christmas
Like I said, the little children loved Wayne and more than just his simple Sunday school lessons or the fact he always brought them candy; they just loved him
So a day or two before the Christmas church service the Pastor who had heard that Wayne had a “wonderful” rendition of the Christmas Story suggested that Wayne “tell the Christmas Story” before the service and allow all the children to come down front while he told it.
The young Pastor wouldn’t take no for an answer from the Deacons or anyone else…..
He still felt bad about moving Wayne from usher to Sunday school teacher and he wasn’t to be denied.
Before we go on any further there are two very important points to be made here…..
Because Wayne has always been “special” he interprets things a bit different than you and I do.
When you and I see the variety of classic Christmas “specials” on Television each year, we enjoy them for what they are; “Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer”, “The Little Drummer Boy” and more, they are entertainment.
Wayne on the other hand interrupts these programs as not only “fact”, but in his mind they are all intertwined into one story line.
The Deacons and others had heard Wayne’s rendition of the “Christmas Story” over the years and that was the only reason they were trying to counsel the young Pastor that this may not be a good idea.
Like I said the young Pastor was not to be denied, Wayne was going to tell the “Christmas Story” before the Sunday service.
That Sunday morning the stage around the pulpit was covered in beautiful crimson poinsettias
The Pastor called all the children to the front of the church and asked them to take a seat and then called Wayne to the pulpit and introduced him as “Someone we all know and appreciate”
And then said “I understand Wayne has a wonderful rendition of the Christmas story that the children all love and I asked him to tell you all this morning before our service”
Wayne calmly stepped up to the pulpit and spoke into the microphone….
“Well it was a long time ago…..
There wasn’t no room at the motel for Mary and Joseph and she was a fixing to have the baby Jesus and they couldn’t find nowheres to stay in the town.
About this time Santa Claus was a flying around to help them a find someplace to stay but he couldn’t cause the weather was a getting bad and he needed that Rudolph with his nose to bright, so he could guide his sleight into the night.”
It was the last line where the young Pastor looked like he just saw a Unicorn….
This wasn’t the “traditional” Christmas story to be sure
But before the Pastor could say or do anything, not that I think he was going to do either, one of the older Deacons from the back of the Church with a simply wave of his hand told the Pastor to just “roll with it”.
Wayne was on a roll alright and the children gathered up front loved every minute it…..
“But once Rudolph done turned that nose on he done found Mary and Joseph a place at a barn in Bethlehem so the baby Jesus could get born in”
Wayne was almost done…..
“That Rudolph was a guiding Santa Claus in the bad weather and he done helped them find that little drummer boy too, so he could find the barn that the baby Jesus was a lying in the manger.
Cause he was a going to play a song for the Baby Jesus on his drum that he a wrote for him.
But there was a bunch of other folks in that barn when he got there, Frosty the Snowman had brought some Frankenstein and Mire and so did some Kings of Orient night and some Sheppard’s that come there cause them angels done went and told them about what was a going on.
That little drummer boy got to play his song and everybody clapped their hands cause it was a song for the baby Jesus.
There was a camel’s and goats and some Black Angus cattle like my daddy’s got in that a barn with the baby Jesus too a watching over him.
That King wasn’t no good that lived down there at the time, he was a like the Grinch he don’t won’t nobody having a Christmas and he was going to kill the baby Jesus, but the Lord sent them angels to guard him and can’t nobody get by an angel of the Lord”
Certainly there is more to the “Christmas Story” I have given you the abbreviated version here, because nobody can tell the story quite like Wayne can.
Not only did the children laugh and clap but so did the entire congregation along with the young Pastor and his family. It was so popular in fact that the church plans on making that a Christmas “tradition” each and every Christmas.
So that brings us to today…..
Although Wayne’s Christmas story sounds confusing it’s really quite simple if you think about it
It’s the Simple faith
The Faith to Believe
The Belief in Miracles
The Belief in the Savior of the World born in Bethlehem
My friends it doesn’t get any simpler than that