The visitor to the church the parson serves walked with a confident air. His blue jeans were creased and his white dress shirt, unadorned by a tie, was freshly laundered and pressed.
The greeter handed him a bulletin, introduced himself, and welcomed him to the service. The visitor acknowledged his welcome and then, looking back on the table where the bulletins were stacked, inquired, “Can I have one of these?”
“Sure,” replied the greeter. “I'm sorry, I should have given you one.”
“Is Charlie Brown here?” asked the visitor as he glanced at the newly acquired bulletin, this one a children's edition.
“Charlie Brown?” the greeter repeated his face displaying a puzzled look.
“Yes, sir, Charlie Brown,” said the young visitor with the impatience that the evidenced his ten years. “Charlie Brown. You know, Charlie Brown.”
“Oh,” said the greeter, 'you mean Charlie Brown.” the visitor stared at him a long moment. He said nothing. “Charlie Brown, the parson's dog, Charlie Brown.”
“Yes, sir, that's the Charlie Brown I'm talking about.”
“I don't think Charlie Brown came to church this morning,” the greeter informed him.
“The parson's here.”
“He is, but I think he … well, I don't think the parson brought him today.”
The music began playing. The visitor stood seemingly studying the situation. He looked at the greeter and asked, “Okay, I was planning to sit with Charlie Brown, but I guess I can sit over there.” He pointed to far end of the rear pew. He slid in and settled down then removed a pen from the holder on the back of the pew in front of him. He began working on the puzzles in the children's bulletin.
Following the service the parson was greeting people at the door. The visitor approached and held out his hand. “Hello, Roger,” the parson exclaimed. “I didn't notice you were here.”
“I came to visit. I thought I'd sit with Charlie Brown, but he's not here.”
“No, he's not here today, Roger,” the parson said. “I've got to leave in a few minutes for a funeral service. And it's too hot today to leave Charlie in the car. So he's visiting with his vet today. I'm sorry you missed him. But I'm really glad you're here.”
“Me, too, but I thought Charlie Brown would be here. Do you think he'll be here next Sunday.”
“I'm almost positive, Roger.”
“Okay, I'll come to church next Sunday, too. See you later, Parson. Mom said I had to come straight home when this was over.”
“See ya, Roger,” the parson replied and watched the visitor walk across the highway to his house on the other side of the road.
The parson took off his robe. Gathered his notes from the pulpit, headed to his study to gather what he needed for the funeral and headed out. Passing a room where the ministry committee was meeting the parson overheard a layperson exclaim. “Well, seems we had a visitor this morning, a neighbor from across the street. Seems he was invited by Charlie Brown. Could we have a show of hands of all the humans who invited someone?”
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