The Big Ten with Jeff D'Alessio, May 4, 2014
We asked 10 pastors, priests, monsignors and ministers: Of all the church services you've given, what's the one memory that would make your congregation chuckle on this Sunday morning?
FATHER ROBERT LAMPITT
Chaplain, St. Thomas More, Champaign
Parochial Vicar, St. Matthew Catholic Church
"One Sunday I was to perform an infant baptism after mass. Now, after a child has been baptized, she is dressed in a white garment accompanied by the following words: 'You have become a new creation and have clothed yourself in Christ. See in this white garment the outward sign of your Christian dignity. With your family and friends to help you by word and example, bring that dignity unstained into the everlasting life of heaven.'
"These rather benign words, however, proved to be too challenging for this child and she immediately expressed her displeasure by spitting up all over her previously 'unstained garment.' It was definitely one of the funniest moments in my young priesthood and gives all new meaning to that saying: 'Ahh ... from the mouth of babes.' "
First Presbyterian Church of Champaign
"I remember having a hundred or so folks around the communion table one summer morning in McHenry. Each person took a piece of bread and I was to come around and have them dip the bread in the cup for communion. But a huge, buzzing horsefly was doing the backstroke in the grape juice. Needless to say, that morning we served only the bread."
Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, Champaign
"At a wedding I presided at a few years ago, the bride had a long, flowing train attached to her dress. When it came time for the bride and groom to turn, greet parents and present roses, the groom stepped on the bride's train. The bride held tightly to the train to keep the dress from being pulled off. Meanwhile, I stood looking at the groom mouthing: 'Get off the dress ... Get off the dress.' "
East Bend Mennonite Church, Fisher
"Just this past Sunday we had, for the first time, a Holy Humor Sunday at East Bend. The whole morning was to be a bit more celebratory. Unbeknownst to me, the leader of our worship committee had planned a few surprises for me while I was preaching.
"The most notable was when he stood up, in the middle of my sermon, and started doing the Hokey Pokey. What was I to do but join in? So there we were, the whole congregation, doing the Hokey Pokey in the middle of the message."
Crossroads Church of Monticello
"One of the most memorable weddings I performed last year was for a fabulous couple who were 'Star Trek' fans. At the bachelor party, there were life-size cutouts of the 'Star Trek' leading ladies from various series, and the wedding ceremony included instrumental music from one of the 'Star Trek' movies.
"Therefore, it seemed oddly appropriate — and not overly sacrilegious — to add to my benediction the traditional Vulcan hand signal and words: 'Live long and prosper.' The couple's surprised but elated expressions were priceless."
Walnut Grove Christian Church, Arcola
"During one of my sermons I was trying to say 'Come and ...' when making a point. It came out as 'Condom.'
"I thought I was quick enough to cover the mistake when I hear the youth group, who always sit in the front row, talking among themselves. I hear 'Did he really just say condom?' after the sermon. It turns out, many people heard it and didn't know if they should laugh or pretend not to hear it."
St. James United Methodist Church, Danville
"I remember my very first wedding. The little white-frame church was full. Everyone was in place. The organist was set to play the bridal march, as she and I kept our eyes on the entry-way, expecting to see the bride any moment.
"We waited. The organist kept playing. Fifteen minutes later, the bride appeared in the doorway, much to the relief of her groom and everyone else.
"The zipper up the back of her gown detached itself from top to bottom. My wife anxiously attempted to sew it back on to the dress — with the bride still in it. It took a while."
Arcola United Methodist Church
"I was doing an outdoor wedding ceremony a few years ago, and as I was delivering one of the prayers a bug managed to fly into my mouth. I coughed a bit and realized that I now had a choice: I could make a scene as I tried to get this insect out of my mouth or I could quietly chew and swallow before going on as if nothing happened.
"Being a consummate professional, I chose to eat the bug for the good of the cause and was just glad that it did not have a stinger."
Immanuel Lutheran Church of Flatville
"At a wedding rehearsal, there was an ongoing disagreement between the bride and groom about everything. At one point, the bride went to the other end of the church to debate with the groom. She came back and said, 'I won that one!' None of us knew whether or not the wedding would take place the next day. It did.
"When I visited that congregation about a dozen years later, they were there. 'This is probably a surprise to you, Pastor. We are still married.' We had a laugh about that."
St. John's Catholic Newman Center
University of Illinois
"I have had the common experience of many clergy who have had a bridesmaid pass out during a wedding and break her front teeth on the marble sanctuary floor. It's always smart not to get intoxicated the night before a wedding and to have breakfast the day of.
"My most memorable experience was on May 1, 1997. I had been a priest for less than three years. I had the opportunity, after the greasing of the wheel by my bishop, to celebrate mass with Saint Pope John Paul II in his private chapel at the Vatican.
"Before the mass, the Pope's assistant asked me to read the gospel during the mass. I immediately accepted the offer with excitement. However, almost as quick, anxiety overtook me, worrying that I would do something stupid, like trip and fall on the Pope, as protocol calls for his blessing prior to the proclamation of the Gospel. My mind was filled with visions of the front page of every newspaper in the world: 'Young American Priest Falls on Pope and Breaks His Hip!'
"Fortunately, the Holy Spirit carried me, all went fantastic and a great memory of serving at God's altar with a saint I now carry with me."
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