~ Originally Published in the 11/6/15 Edition of The Reporter ~
Just to be clear, when I write these articles, my goals are to entertain through humor. But, humor is tricky. Sometimes I hit the mark and sometimes I’m way off. Any of my articles can be loved by a few and hated by a few at the same time. I’m like the Donald Trump in the newspaper biz.
My ultimate goal is to give someone a smile occasionally, which is why I’ve been appreciating our churches in the Upper Keys lately. We have two churches that should be writing my articles because the quotes on their signs in front of the churches seriously crack me up almost every week. First Baptist Church of Key Largo has posted some whoopers and fortunately, Coral Isles Church, is located where I can turn off US1, make a U-turn onto the old highway, and snap a picture of the sign so I won’t forget the saying.
If people make U-turns to read your sign, you know you’re doing something right. A U-turn to a writer is like winning an Emmy Award, which, essentially means our churches are the Betty Whites of the Keys.
I think the first one that really caught my eye read, “Wrinkled With Burdens? Come Inside For A Faith Lift.” Because of my bad eyesight, of course I thought it said Face Lift. When I realized my mistake, I had to chuckle. Between the words, wrinkled, burdens and lift, anyone in my age group would take notice as they passed that sign as it pertained to any older person… or an elephant.
Obviously they try to post something we can all relate to. A huge moral issue was addressed with a fun, satirical sign, “As long as there are tests, there will be prayer in schools.” And, anyone living in the Keys can relate to this next one, “Why didn't Noah swat the two mosquitoes?” So true! It’s not like he even had to finish off both of them. He only needed to kill one of them and our buzzing nemesis would be obsolete today.
Anything to do with heat immediately grabs my attention, like, “Where will you be sitting in eternity? Smoking or non-smoking?” And my favorite was, “Our churches are prayer conditioned.” Who couldn’t relate to those words? I repeated them my sister, who lives in Colorado, and she said they have a church sign up with, “Whoever is praying for snow, stop it.” I guess a lot of churches across the nation are getting a sense of humor.
They are all so funny I’ve been taking notes. A few of my favorites were, “Life stinks? We have a pew for you.” “We’re not Dairy Queen but we have great Sundays.” These cracked me up so much, I went online and find more, like, “Staying in bed and shouting, "Oh God" does not constitute going to church.” Or, “The best vitamin for a Christian? B1.” The last one took me a half a minute to understand. (Admittedly, sometimes I can be as bright as a 10-watt bulb.) But when I finally got it, I loved it.
I know I should actually take the steps INSIDE the churches instead of taking notes outside, but I am still learning from them. A while ago, a sign said, “Lord, please make me the kind of person my dog thinks I am” which I’ve found nearly impossible to follow. My dogs think I’m a demi-god, and it’s hard to live up to that image. And this week’s sign on Coral Isles Church is “An apology is a good way to have the last word.” It’s deeper than usual, but I’m still using its advice when my husband and I have our next argument. I’ll tell him the best way to have the last word is to apologize to me. That sign is so smart.
If you do venture inside any of our churches, you’ll find the same warmth and love you see everyday here in the Keys. These signs are just a few of the “unusual” ways churches are bringing in new parishioners. For instance, Coral Isles Church even allows well-behaved pets to attend and they, along with St. James Episcopal, do a special Blessing of the Animals throughout the year. Believe it or not, I even convinced my hubby to attend one of St. James Episcopal services held at the Caribbean Club once a month. It was a miracle.
Like most people, my husband needs extra incentives to do things outside of his comfort zone, like attending church. I’m always trying to think of ways to have him try new things. As a matter of fact, I still think my original idea of having a church on a boat is genius. They’d have to turn away followers, including my husband. And, if they charged the same as a ½ day fishing trip, the revenue earned from each of the passengers, er, parishioners, would be more than any donation basket could dream of.
Finally, the best part of the church boat would be their sign: “You catch ‘em, while we clean you.” It’s an awesome idea and I’m thinking of getting ordained. I could use material from my articles for the sermons and I could help the community at the same time. Is it possible that I might be able to live up to my dogs’ image of me after all?