Many years ago, as a young and naive preacher, I was ambushed, bushwhacked, hijacked. What follows is my story…
I am being held captive by insidious members of our church youth group. As the esteemed writer Dave Berry would say: “I am not making this up!”
Also, my humble apologies to the Flamingo Lawn Ornament Preservation Society, commonly referred to as F.L.O.P.S. I realize there are wonderful, wholesome benefits to having flamingo lawn ornaments in your yard and any future remarks considered tacky, ugly, and serve no benefit were made under duress.
It all started weeks earlier when I was asked to read the following announcement by the same ruthless youth group now holding me hostage:
Beware! There is an affliction in our church! At any time, at any hour, at any moment, your yard is in jeopardy of being saturated with tacky, ugly, pink flamingos. Think about your usual morning routine; comfortable and relaxed. You calmly go to pick-up the morning paper and there out in your front yard for all the world to see are those bright, plastic, pink flamingos! Oh, the shame! What will the neighbors think?
One of the youth then stood up and shouted: “But don’t despair! There is hope in the air!”
“We are the Flamingo Busters! Quick as a flash, before you can say, ‘Get these pink flamingos out of my yard!’” our Flamingo Busters are ready to respond. For a sizable fee we will remove the tacky and distasteful affliction from your property.”
“Or, better yet,” he paused before continuing, “buy our new ‘no pink flamingos in my yard’ insurance policy and we promise to protect your property for one full year from these awful pink destroyers of good taste. In other words: pay a little now or pay more later!”
In an effort to keep our congregation duly informed, I read the announcement.
But then I paused and added, “These pink flamingo threats don’t intimidate me. I refuse to buy insurance or give-in to these cheap theatrical tricks.”
While speaking, I noticed two people running over to the youth to buy insurance.
The next morning, the following email message was on my computer: “The Pink Flamingo reign of terror has begun!” “Oh no,” I screamed and ran outside. There were fifteen pink flamingos in all their glory perched in my front yard. I dialed Flamingo Busters and did the only noble thing a poor preacher could do. I begged them to come immediately and remove those pink, ugly birds from my yard!
They came but before removing the pink terror, they tied me up and forced me to write this story so everyone will know of the Pink Flamingo Affliction.
I know what you’re thinking! Larry, what in the world does this have to do with religion, serving God or the church? Maybe more than you think.
Psalm 95 begins: Come, let us sing to the Lord! Let us give a joyous shout to the rock of our salvation! Let us come before him with thanksgiving. Let us sing him psalms of praise. For the Lord is a great God… (1-3)
Be honest, when was the last time you heard a joyous shout in your home, in your office, at your school or in your church?
Expressing joy with creativity and imagination is part of our service to God. No group expresses joy in more creative ways than our youth. (Remember, I’m still tied up.) Recently, the youth led one of our worship services. There was creative dancing, flags, amusing but thought-provoking drama, music and lots of participation. Everyone left the church with a smile on their face and a new appreciation of God’s awesome love.
I learned two things from this story:
- Creatively, look for joy in serving God. If your home or church seems lacking then look for innovative ways to add your own style of joy.
- Don’t overlook the contribution of our youth. They can restore the joy in us all.
Oh, one more thing. If someone offers to sell you “no pink flamingos in my yard” Insurance – buy the insurance while you have the chance!