Grump

Cabbages and Kings

Chaucer spelled my name mous. In Latin it is mus. The influence

we had on that dead language is well-known. Edimus, Vivimus, Biblimus, Oremus, etc. Be that as it may, there is a man in our church whose moniker is far more apt: Mr. Grump! And that is what he is—and does.

Being grumpy all the time has permanently twisted his face like that of a man with a lemon in his mouth. Indeed, some people call him “Sourpuss.” I mentioned him once at one of our mouse conventions, which we call “Inter-Nos,” and from the response, discovered that every church has at least one.

Mr. Grump mostly grumps about the sermons of our pastor. They are too deep or not deep enough. Too long or not long enough. He calls the short ones “sermonettes” and always adds, “They’re for Christianettes.”

The only time he laughs, and that derisively, is when he says, “If the preacher’s text had a cold, the sermon never caught it.” The other thing he says every Sunday is, “The preacher missed the central thrust of his text completely.” Ad nauseam! Paul had a thorn in his flesh (2 Cor. 12:7); our minister has Mr. Grump.

To counteract Mr. Grump, some members came up with the idea of having a Pastor Appreciation Sunday. It took some work, some meetings, some committees, including a refreshments committee (goody!) to get the idea off the ground. A retired minister was engaged to deliver the sermon. He chose his text from

1 Thessalonians 5:12-13: “Now we ask you . . . to respect those who work hard among you, who are over you in the Lord, and who admonish you. Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work.”

I didn’t record the sermon, but I remember some of it. Among other things, the visiting preacher said that those Thessalonians needed to be reminded—as we all do—to hold our pastors in high regard, even though they cannot walk on water and sometimes spill on you while serving spiritual food. He told the people to remind themselves that the human race is not made up, as some believe, of three classifications: men, women, and preachers. He said that if people are entitled to one idiosyncrasy, preachers are entitled to two.

     He went on. The most important words in the language are “thank you.” People should remember that preachers also have feet of clay, and that if they preach too long they should still be called “Reverend” and not “Neverend.”

He pointed out that “pastor” is the better designation, and how it derives from “parson,” meaning “person”—in olden days “the person” in the community. He didn’t like it that even children these days address pastors by their first names—a sign of the times. And another

—namely that some ministers are released from their positions for insufficient reasons—like the way they comb their hair.

I thought it was a good message, and I hoped that our minister felt the love the congregation expressed by way of that special service.

Everybody was there, including Mr. Grump. His comment on the sermon by the retired minister was overheard by all when the refreshments were served. He said:

“He missed the central thrust of the text completely.” 

About the Author

Rev. Jacob D. Eppinga was pastor emeritus of LaGrave Avenue Christian Reformed Church, in Grand Rapids, Mich. He went to be with his Lord March 1, 2008. This column concludes his popular “Cabbages and Kings” series, which he wrote for 40 consecutive years. Watch for It’s All Grace, a collection of his best and more recent columns to be published in book form this fall by Faith Alive Christian Resources.
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