“Jesus and the Birds”
“Jesus and the Birds” more on that later.
Today I went with John to see his Mother who is 90. She is a wonderful lady who fortunately has all her faculties. She has trouble walking due to artharitis and hip replacement but she is otherwise in good health. Today, in our home county seat, and local high school, was “Homecoming Day” which traditionally is a time to welcome “home” alums and to elect a “homecoming queen”. Americans despite the Insurrection loves kings, queens, princesses and such. As I understand the process various clubs in the high school elect a representative and then the entire study body votes on “Miss R S Central” who is then crowned homecoming queen. One of John’s wonderful nieces was nominated. As part of the festivities a parade is held complete with the school band and nominees along with their escorts being driven through town. You really understand how old you are getting when the nominees and escorts look like middle schoolers! So bright and full of life and utterly clueless!!
Now to “Jesus and the Birds”: Many years ago a newly ordained Episcopal transitional deacon came to our county. He was a very nice sort though at times just a wee bit pompous but most folkes overlooked that because he was after all an Episcopalian “preacher”. One day Father Viola( his actual name) was driving around the “tri city area” as our three little towns were called by the Chamber of Commerce, a designation that was indeed very pompous, when he spied a roadside store that had all manner of bird baths and assorted statuary. The young deacon saw just the statue he wanted to purchase to put in the garden of the vicarage attached to his small parish church an addition he thought would “spruce up” the place. So in his best Anglican persona he went up to the young man sitting behind a register and asked “What is cost of the statue of St Francis ?” The young man blankly stared back looking at the deacon’s clerical collar and figuring he was some kind of “Catholic” and said in a very almost defiant tone “WHO?” Father Viola realised the chap did not have a clue and pointed to the statue of St Francis! ” “Oh says he, is that who that is, I thought it was Jesus and the Birds!”
This seems to be true for a lot of folkes back home as you can see to this day in the “prayer gardens” of a number of Baptist churches statues of St Francis! There is even one mortary chapel which has this same statue on either side of its entrance. Jesus dressed in a Franciscan habit complete with censure and birds alighting on his shoulder. Brother Francis you have really made the big time!
Father Andrew Gentry
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