Title: A Very Small Church Service

Date Occurred: January 20, 2019

Date Written: January 20, 2019

Written by: Joel T. Kant

Copyright (c) 2019


Around seven am this Sunday morning, I got up and looked out the window. It had been snowing heavily since the previous afternoon. Indeed, there was a good amount of snow outside.

As usual, I had prepared material for a bible study that I lead on Sunday morning at Parma Lutheran Church. I have been doing this for a couple years, replacing a ninety-one-year-old man who used to run it, but now even with hearing aides, his hearing is so bad he has difficulties. Knowing why I was getting ready, Holly said that she expected nobody would come. I should just stay home.

Instead, I got into heavy sweater, down-filled coat, baklava, gloves, and heavy insulated boots. I fired up the snowblower and got to work. There has certainly been worse snow in Parma over the years, but this was bad enough. There were drifts taller the opening of the snowblower. I had to go slowly, reverse, go slowly, reverse, and try yet again. The large, heavy snowblower ran fine. Holly does not like this snowblower since so big and heavy, but for snow on days like today, I am glad to have this heavy-duty model. With patience and effort, the job got done.

The street in front of our house had not yet been plowed, but tire tracks showed some cars had successfully gotten down it already this Sunday morning. A woman next to us has to leave early to work at a fast-food restaurant, and tracks from her driveway showed that she had successfully gotten away.

I went inside to get a black plastic box that I use that contains a couple bibles including my favorite being a King James version published in 1851, a couple books of commentaries, and the printouts I made for today?s lesson.

Inside the house, Holly was at the computer. She also had the TV on. She said that many churches had been cancelled, although Parma Lutheran Church was not one of them. She also said that she was not coming. The service does not start until 10:20 am. Holly usually comes for the service, but not my bible study.

On a normal Sunday, most of the people at the bible study are older than me by a fair number of years. I was not sure any would make it, but I figured I should be there just in case if the church was indeed open.

I wished I still had my 4WD Suzuki Samurai for this kind of weather, but it has been gone since 1999. Instead, I got in my twenty-six-year-old Saturn. It is front drive and is fair in snow. Not great, but not terrible either. The old car started up easily.

I got to the road, which was easy with the cleared driveway. The way I had to go was downhill. I had to slide to a stop. Another car was trying to come uphill. Only one tire-beaten down lane was even partially passable, so I had to wait. The other car had much spinning of tires and drifting back and forth, but did keep up a slow pace up. It got to a driveway, and with snow flying out from the tires managed to enter the driveway.

I then got going, and with a relief, my car did move. After a couple turns hard to make in the drifted, thick snow, I got to the main four-lane road of Broadview, which was beautifully plowed. There was only a little traffic, and it moved freely once on this road. Parma Lutheran Church was just a short distance off Broadview, only about two miles from our house. I worried the parking lot might not be cleared, but it was nicely plowed. The sidewalks around the church were also shoveled and salted.

I parked, got out my black plastic box, and went inside. Two men were inside, neither the pastor. One man was Harry, who is the custodian. The other was a member named Phil. Neither of these men go to my bible study. None of the people who attend showed up as the clock drifted past the starting time of nine am.

Harry's phone kept buzzing. He read some of the text messages coming in to Phil and myself. These were from a neighbor who was complaining that Harry had to snowblow his own drive at five am to get to the church to do all the sidewalks here. Harry had done an excellent job, with salt laid down for good traction.

The text from the angry neighbor claimed everything was closed, including all churches, so it was not funny that Harry had woken them at five am with his snowblowing. The neighbor felt the excuse of going to work was not true.

Harry commented to Phil and me that he was there, and he had done his job. Phil and I agreed on that.

The pastor showed up in a pickup around 9:15 am. Nobody else showed up until around ten am. My preparations went to naught.

While a few people showed up between ten am and official start time of 10:20 am, it was very few. Including the pastor, there were only nine of us there! One was a little girl of age four.

Harry got out some donuts, which the little girl enjoyed. Then, the pastor moved us to the lounge rather than the big chapel. The pastor then did a condensed service, with communion, for the few of us there.

The gospel lesson and sermon was on the wedding of Cana where Jesus turns water into wine. This led to a discussion about alcohol use among Christians. The pastor pointed out that without much ways to purify water back then, wine was often safer to drink than water!

After the service was over, I drove home. I decided to go past my normal way on the main road that was nicely plowed, to another main road also well-plowed, then come in on a sidestreet in a fashion that would be entirely downhill. However, I could not do it because a very stuck car completely blocked the way on the sidestreet that I had planned to turn down. The driver and another man were working to get it to move, but it looked very stuck.

I managed to turn around in a plowed driveway of some house on the main road, and then go back the way I came.

I got to our road, and it had not been plowed yet. Trying to keep up momentum as I went uphill, I kept going all the way up to the driveway of our house. As soon as I tried to turn in, though, the car got stuck. I was only about fifteen feet from the driveway that I had snowblowed before leaving.

I had a shovel in the car, but I skipped that. I left the car and went inside. Through the window, Holly could see out the picture window I had gotten stuck out in the road just in front of our house.

I got the garage door opener, and got out the snowblower. It felt wrong somehow to be snowblowing on the street around my car, but it was easier then shoveling all that thick and heavy snow. I made sure to clear a good-sized space behind the car. Then, I brought the snowblower back to the garage.

I still could not go up the hill, but I could go down a few feet with gravity helping, which is why I had cleared space behind the car with the snowblower. I stopped the car again and got out. Using the shovel, I cleared out the snow that had been under the car hanging it up that had made it so hard to move. Then, I got back in the car. This time, I was able to get moving forward, make the turn, and get into the plowed driveway.

I had made it home, safe and sound.

When I got in and described the event, Holly asked if one of the people there was the organist. No, the organist had not come. She was glad because the organist is an old man who should not be out in weather like this. Holly thought it was ridiculous that I had gone at all.

In hindsight, she was correct, of course. Still, Harry had done his job on the sidewalks and getting the church ready well. The pastor did his job also. Although small, it was a nice service. The four-year-old girl eating donuts seemed to treat it as fun, at least!

As I typed this up, around six pm, Holly commented that at last, the snowplow had come and plowed the street in front of our house.


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