Last Sunday the congregation of our church was shaken out of its usual routine, when we arrived to find a problem with the heat in the building. The temperature outside was one measly degree, and baby it was cold inside!
The clever churchmen immediately launched into problem solving mode, and within minutes the boiler was back in business. Unfortunately there was a considerable lag time from getting that blazing beauty fired up, and raising the temperature in the building.
A less hardy congregation, not prone to wearing long johns to church, might have been discouraged. They might have even cancelled church. But our devotees pulled on parkas, mittens, hats and prayer shawls, and filed upstairs to worship together.
Our service took on a new look with much arm flapping, jumping up and down, shaking and swaying. At one point I feared someone might start speaking in tongues, but of course we were simply trying to prevent hypothermia. Was it my imagination or did our normally conservative New Englanders say a few more ‘amens,’ and launch into hand clapping with less reserve, when we sang a rousing version of “Shall We Gather at the River?”
It was “Baptism of the Lord” Sunday so we read about John the Baptist, that crazy wearer of camel-hair and eater of honey glazed locusts, who called the religious leaders of the day a “brood of vipers.”
I shivered and this time it wasn’t from the 40-degree ambient temperature. A brood of vipers? Holy Leapin’ Lizards! John was accusing those religious leaders of being cold-blooded, hollow fanged, venomous killers. That seems a bit harsh.
What a relief that I’m not THAT bad, and I can’t be profiled as one of those hypocritical religious leaders. I relate more to a harmless little garter snake than a deadly viper. You know, the type that slithers around, quietly adapting its body temperature to the environment, and hides under rocks. Or that adorable talking gecko who is so adept at selling insurance.
Suddenly I started to sweat. Was I having a hot flash or did the sanctuary suddenly become 50 degrees warmer? Had a spark from our swishing snow pants started a fire?
Or was there more to this viper thing than my shallow consciousness was capable of grasping? I welcome your insights. And if you are looking for me I’ll be on the back patio. The sun is shining today, and I have a sudden urge to lay on those hot paving stones, soaking up some Maine January heat.