I was amused by Pope Francis’s recent slip of the tongue. He was speaking to thousands in St. Peter’s square when he said the word “cazzo” instead of “caso.” Caso means “example” in Italian, while cazzo is the Italian word for…well…in America we just call it “the F word.”
Years ago, I went on vacation. One of the dedicated men of our church (I’ll call him Joe, which is not his real name) preached in my absence. Upon my return, I asked several people how Joe’s sermon went and was met with giggles and guffaws. “Haven’t you heard?” they asked. “No. What happened?” I said, dying of curiosity.
In seems Joe preached a passionate, heartfelt message about Satan. He compared Satan’s reach and influence to the many coiling arms of an octopus. Apparently, it was a decent sermon right up until the very last line. Joe looked out over the audience and said, “So I’ll say it again…you better be careful or the testicles of Satan will get you!”
He meant tentacles.
On another occasion, my parents were visiting our church. Just before the service started, I saw my dad, seated about halfway back in the auditorium, laughing hysterically. His face was red and he was heaving. My mom was elbowing him, trying to get him to straighten up. I mouthed the words, “What’s so funny?” He simply held up the bulletin and pointed to it. I picked up my bulletin and started reading through it quickly. About halfway down on page two I saw it. A typo.
One of the men serving communion that morning was named Wilbur Whitehead. In the bulletin, his name was “Wilbur Shithead.”
I went to Wilbur as soon as the service was over and apologized profusely. Wilbur was a very nice, laid back man. He graciously smiled and said it was okay…he’d been called that before when it wasn’t a mistake.
For the record, Wilbur was also the guy who was presiding at the communion table one morning when his alarm watch went off, loudly playing “Dixie.” Wilbur had just gotten the watch and had no idea how to silence it. Thinking quickly, he put his left wrist under his right armpit and clamped down, muffling the song. When it ended, he resumed his normal stance and, through it all, never cracked a smile.
One thing about being in ministry for almost 40 years is that you have a lot of stories like this. Believe me, I’m only scratching the surface.
I concluded long ago that being imperfect and prone to mistakes isn’t always a bad thing. Sometimes our stumbles and bumbles make for some belly laughs…if we don’t take ourselves too seriously. I’m convinced that God has a sense of humor and laughs right along with us when things like this happen.
Got any similar stories of church wackiness you’d like to share?