Monday, February 11, 2008

Grace by Works

Is it just a rural thing or does every congregation have someone who makes sure that every penny, ounce of flesh and/or food item is accounted for?

I call her Betty. I have spoken of her before in a post entitled benefit of the doubt. With her and her husband and their daughter (who serves as our treasurer) there is no benefit of the doubt, there is no giving unless it is 'earned'. For instance now that we have an intern and she preaches once a month they asked our Chair of Stewardship & Finance if I should be docked pay on the Sundays I don't preach.
Umm, no.

They are not evil they are just... capitalist republicans in the truest sense of the phrase. I'm not trying to pick a political fight, they just are. They disagree that Head Start is here because it uses up our resources when people should be creating their own resources and yet they have stock in oil companies and have no problem with that.

Usually I just take it for what it's worth... meaning, not personally. I had to work on that. Believe me.

One of the things that we have noted is that they use food as payment for what they consider to be good deeds. For instance, Betty makes homemade maple syrup. It is so incredibly good it will spoil you from having any other syrup again ever. When we first arrived here, we received a baby jar of it. I had not received any of it since, even though I had RAVED about it. I won it at silent auctions a couple of times and watched as she doled it out to others who had done good in her sight but nothing for me.

But this year I received a huge jar of it. Why? Because they are big TOW1 fans and Betty was at me week after week about forgiving her. To which I would either ignore or respond with, 'give me time.' Once the forgiveness happened, I received the syrup (and no, that's not why I did it).

Last night at our annual fundraiser Betty and her family showed up with TOW1 and her family. I was taken aback at first. These sightings in the midst of the church setting especially make me feel like I am on the hot seat. But eventually I purposefully went over, made some small talk and then left.

Betty came up to me, thanked me for being the "facilitator that I am" (whatever the hell that means) and told me that for today's Lenten church event she was making the soup - potato, an absolute favorite of mine. Would I like her to bring some over to me since I was hosting the youth right after church for a different event.

I am not good at playing social games, especially when I am the pawn and so I responded to her, "I can always tell when you are happy with me because you send yummy food my way."
No reaction from her.

Thankfully, I still got the soup.


IdentityMixed said...

That is unbelievable. But sadly, every church has one of "them."

When I was a youth pastor at an Episcopal church, I was told I was not going to make a good servant of God because I didn't know how to set a table properly.

I told the old biddy that I was the youth pastor and she was lucky she was getting silverware.


cheesehead said...

At St Stoic it is Lemon Meringue Pie. That's the currency used by our old biddy. Still haven't tasted it yet.

The pay docking comment made me want to throw something. That's outrageous!

revrosa said...

Oh, Will Smama--that takes the prize. I have not encountered this brand of faithfulness and I am in total awe of how you handle it. ]*

Songbird said...

Sometimes I just want to
I mean, really!

Rev Kim said...


I really hope to meet you sometime at a revgal gathering, because I know that you are one of the most gracious people whom I will ever encounter.

Crimson Rambler said...

I hurt all over, reading this. Yep. They're there. Everywhere.

Chorus said...

"Betty" reminds me of the gentleman at our church who was coming in from time to change lightbulbs, etc., and at the end of the year, unannounced, unnegotiated, unexplained, presented a bill to the church office for $25/hour of work that he'd done. It was a bit jaw-dropping.

cheesehead said...

Rev Kim, I hope you do meet her. Just don't hug her. Trust me.


will smama said...

I believe my graciousness and aversion to hugs have both been greatly exagerrated in these comments.

I believe what cheese is referring to as a hug would be considered a mugging in most northeastern states.

Preacher Mom said...

OMG - this makes my blood boil. If you haven't decked her yet, then your graciousness is not being exaggerated! Should they dock your pay for that one Sunday a month?? Rewarding you with goodies like they are trying to train a puppy?? (Pauses to take a few deep cleansing breaths. OK. A little better now.) May God continue to give you the strength and wisdom to continue dealing with this particular . . . challenge.

Katharine O'Moore-Klopf said...

Oooh! I'm not her minister (or anybody's minister), so send her over to my house and I'll make sure that my boys leave toys all over the place that someone might trip over. And then I'll pray for forgiveness. Bwahahahaha!

Towanda said...

gaaaawwwwd. So bad on so many levels.

You are amazing.

Mrs. M said...

I am seriously pissed on your behalf. This woman is controlling about things that have absolutely nothing to do with her!

I've got my cowboy boots on today, and half a mind to kick her in the shins.

Sue said...

Dock your pay!? Unbelievable.

You are indeed gracious WS, and apparently humble too!

I have been on the receiving end of cheesehead's hugs/muggings, and rather enjoyed them - but that's just me.


zorra said...

This makes me grind my teeth.

But I LOVE your response.

mid-life rookie said...

Wow. Her behavior leaves me speechless. She is obviously thoughtless and totally inconsiderate of anyone else's interests. Okay, maybe I'm not speechless. And you are very gracious - amazingly gracious - and the fact that you don't see it is what makes you awesome.

Rev Scott said...

The thing that redeems this (and it took a lot, believe me) is that you had the cojones to call her on her emotional currency of choice.




You're awesome.

RevHRod said...

I'm with Songbird. I want to smack her. The part that makes me REALLY sad is that Betty is not the only one in the church behaving this way. But I do wish she'd stop bugging you and just leave a gallon of syrup on your stoop next week. You've more than earned it!

cpclergymama said...

I think her sister is married to the treasurer at our little church on the hill. her currency is peanut butter candy. prayers.