Observations #19

Dr. David R. Denny

From the Schoolhouse
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It seemed to good to be true.  But other teachers I trusted said it worked.  It defied logic, but then so does gravity.  “All you have to do,” they said, “is shout out two words and your kids will freeze in their tracks and become totally silent.  

   Where was this dark magic 15 years ago when I really needed it, I thought.  But, oh well.  I’ll give it a try and see what happens.  The next day I walked into my 1A class of 36 rowdy 8th graders.  They weren’t looking at me.  The phones and the latest gossip had them mesmerized.  I tapped my ruler on the lectern and then shouted out the two words:  “Mannequin Challenge!”  

    The transformation was immediate!  As I looked across the silent room, frozen images of previously frenetic kids were now locked into a still picture much like that of Rembrandt’s “The Storm on the Sea of Galilee.”  Hands were extended in mid air–motionless.  Eyes were locked in querulous stares across the room.  Sentences were half finished.  Jokes suspended.  It was as if time had stopped and the very meaning of existence lost in a fifth dimension.  

   I found myself, for a split second, worrying.  Would I be able to retrieve them?  Could they–would they return?  But then I put these somber thoughts away and did what every normal teacher would do–I danced for joy weaving in and out of these Greek statues, giddy with my new found power.  

    And then a hall bell sounded and….

From the Pulpit

   The sunrise sermon text was from John 20:1-18.  I reminded everyone of Jim Ryun’s exploits as a  high school runner.  A failure in all of his middle school sport’s endeavors, he stumbled onto long distance running.  Within a few races, he began to set records.  While a high school junior he ran a sub-four minute mile, a record that stood for 36 years!

  I noticed that in the story of the empty tomb, there was also a lot of running.  Mary ran to the tomb in the early morning.  Then she ran to get the disciples.  Peter and John ran to the tomb.  They too then ran back to their friends.  All of these early morning discoveries ignited a flame of hope that still permeates the hearts of millions of believers worldwide.  It was the Apostle Paul who also added a running note.  He said that because of the empty tomb, he now runs a long distance race to win the imperishable wreath.

From the Pews.

 I woke up at 5:00 am sleeping in a small bunk bed as a guest at Wayne and Dale Parks’ home.  Their seaside house was near the ocean and close to the sunrise gathering area.  The 6:15 am service was drawing close.  I dressed in jeans and comfortable clothes and strolled outside.  The absence of any city lights seemed so strange.  The darkness was profound and silent.  I smelled the ocean.  I wondered if anyone would come to this remote place at such an early hour.  I walked along the unpaved driveway that wound through a patch of trees.  Morning birds tweeted “Easter.  Easter.”  A slight breeze fluttered the darkness about me and I felt a sense of calm that often escapes the frenetic city dweller.

  At first they seemed like distant stars sitting on the horizon tucked behind the trees.  But then as the lights darted and twinkled, the quiet hum of a car engine approached and passed down the dirt road interrupting my reverie.    A few minutes later three more cars approached weaving in and out of this morning dream until they too rested at the edge of the ocean beside the humble cross erected on the seashore.  

  When the time came for the service to begin, two congregations (Drummondtown and Zion) merged as one and sang Easter hymns acapella as a few locals waded waist deep about 100 yards off the shore working oyster beds.  The sun rose with brilliant dignity as I spoke of the early disciples running to and from the empty tomb.  IMG_1656

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