’Tis the season for one of the endearing traditions in Southern-fried religion, church homecomings. I love church homecomings. Here’s how they work, for those of you who’ve come to live in the South and are still learning about customs in these parts.
I knew Ginny from a distance for a long time, but only met her a few months ago. She lived near Knoxville, Tenn., with her daughter Donnis and Donnis’ partner, Deb. She was confined to er bed in a beautiful bedroom adorned with butterflies, which she loved. She had reached a great age and had begun to suffer some dementia. (I wish we had a different word for “dementia.” Maybe something like “distraction.”) Clearly, she was nearing the end of her life.
I never knew I had so many friends until the phone began to ring and my e-mail inbox began to flood last week. They were friends contacting me to tell me that my Facebook account had been hacked. They were telling me that I needed to check and see what someone had done.
Deer friends, I have trouble in my little corner of Eden. Please class, take out your Bibles and turn to the first page. It begins, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Now we will notice right away that this big book is going to present some challenges. It says “heavens.”
I answered the telephone and got the fabulous news that I had won the New York lottery sweepstakes on June 6. More than $2 million, the caller said. My reply was that this was not possible because I had never entered the New York lottery or any other sweepstakes.
One of the privileges of writing this column is that through it I make tons of friends. You readers get in touch with me often. You give me inspirational stories, witty comments and encouraging words.
Cynthia and Ernie Fullerton are a case in point. Last year, Cynthia invited me to attend a National Day of Prayer gathering on the steps of the town hall in Cornelius. I was unable to attend. However, this year she invited me again and I did attend. Although we have exchanged e-mails, it was my first occasion to meet her and Ernie face-to-face. I had a wonderful time. I want to tell you about it because next year, on the first Thursday in May, I hope you will participate, too.
I had not meant to say anything more about Harold Camping’s prediction that the Rapture would occur on May 21. On that night, I was sitting at my desk reviewing my sermon for the following day. Suddenly I realized it was 8 o’clock — two hours after the Rapture was supposed to happen according to Harold the Predictor.
My friend, Keith Moore, sent me the following story via a mutual friend. In the note he attached he wrote, “I immediately thought of Harold when I got this corny joke from a friend. You can show it to him in case he hasn’t heard it. He might even be the original author.”
Who is Harold Camping? He is a 90-year-old, radio broadcaster whose call-in radio talk show is broadcast on about 150 outlets nationwide. He is trained as a civil engineer but he has made a career as an “end-time predictor.”
He missed on his 1994 predictions about the “rapture” and the end of the earth and universe. However, he is not deterred by that miss and his current prediction has been prominent in the news lately. Mr. Camping is predicting the “rapture,” in which Christ will return to gather up the saints — both dead and living — to join him in the sky. He believes there will be about 200 million people in that number. And he has calculated that this will occur next Saturday night at around 6 p.m.. He also predicts that the earth and the universe will be destroyed on Oct. 21, later this year.