In the mid-90’s, an old friend of my family planted a new church. As I recall, we missed his virgin sermon, attending instead a morning service a few weeks later. I remember that day all too vividly.
My parents sat in the front pew; I felt more comfortable sitting five rows back with my brother and sister. We sang three hymns, read from the Gospel of Matthew, and then worked our way through two more songs. All things considered, the service progressed swimmingly. That is until the new visitors were encouraged to stand and introduce themselves.
My dad said, “Hello, I’m so and so,” and I duly waited my turn. As the introductions commenced, my mind started to wander to my mum’s delicious Sunday roast at home. There was no need for me to pay attention, after all; my siblings would be my cue to get ready. They’re older than me. Obviously they’d be asked to speak before me.
Boy, was I wrong.
It came to pass that the boy raised his eyes to the man on the pulpit. And he, this anointed agent of Heaven with the godly eyebrows and obsidian robes, pointed a quivering finger at the youth’s gluttonous heart, thus casting out the roast reverie and delivering the child from his gravy daydream. ‘Twas as if God himself demanded, “WHO ARE YOU, BOY?”
Who, me? I was a deer in the headlights of onrushing shame. Futilely, I gestured to my parents — suddenly, so far away — and then, I tried to explain myself. I said, “I am…my father’s son.”
Never let it be said that I’m a liar.
A punchline silence greeted my declaration, shortly followed by laughter — the entire congregation were rolling in the aisles. And after the bellies of these good churchgoing folk ached too much to continue, my wiseass brother affectionately nudged me and announced, “I’m his brother.” Another round of chortling ensued and my humiliation was complete.
I’ve never lived this faux pas down, and I don’t really care to. It’s a fun story to tell. And it served me well when I toasted my parents at my sister’s wedding. “I am my father’s son. I am my mother’s son. And I’m very proud of that.”