The parson was out walking late in the afternoon on Easter Sunday. He followed behind Charlie Brown, his faithful canine companion, and Princess Penny, Charlie Brown's girl friend, both of whom pulled the parson along as he held tightly to their leashes.
A car slowed as it passed the parson. The car pulled off the road in front of the trio. The parson watched intently as the driver's door opened. Scott Parrish, a new pastor jumped out.
“Parson, oh, my goodness, I'm glad to see you,” exclaimed Scott as he began to walk back toward the parson and the dogs. “Oh my goodness, look at these dogs. Gracious, their big ones.”
“This is Charlie Brown and his girlfriend Penny,” the parson introduced. Both Charlie Brown and Penny moved toward Scott and began to give him the sniff test. Apparently satisfied that he was a United Methodist, they ambled their way toward the bushes bordering the right-of-way. “What brings you to the neighborhood?” asked the parson.
“I was heading into town to pick up some things for Alice,” said Scott. “What with all the activities of Holy Week we completely ran out of a couple of things.”
“How are things going at the church?” the parson asked. He was familiar with Scott's church, his first pastorate. It was one of those steady churches. They paid their obligations to the denomination without complaint. They supported the pastor to the financial extent required. And, while a congenial congregation, they were evidence of the parson's theory that small churches are small because the choose to be small.
“Oh, gracious,” said Scott with some emotion, “I think we have turned a corner. I mean the church was packed this morning. We just had ever pew filled. I'm sure this is the beginning of something special. I'm just so excited with how things are going ….”
The parson interrupted despite his desire not to throw cold water on the new pastor's excitement. “Scott, it's Easter.”
“I know it's Easter, Parson. But even though it's Easter the attendance this morning is certainly indicative of our church's work over the last months paying off.”
“Scott,” the parson said, “this isn't Sweeps Week at the church.”
“What are you trying to say, Parson?” asked Scott.
“Look, Scott,” the parson continued, “you're doing a wonderful job at that church. But I think I need to warn you to that next Sunday you're going to have a let-down.” Scott started to sepak but the parson held up his hand. “The Sunday after Easter, Scott, is the lowest attended service in the church year. Next Sunday, will be a challenge.”
“You're serious?” asked Scott.
“I am, Scott, I am. But look the number of people in the pews in no reflection on you. What is a reflection on you is the joyful spirit you're carrying out your ministry. That church is lucky to have you. So next Sunday, when you look out on all those pew backs, don't yo get discouraged. I'll be looking at pew backs, too. And I'll be remembering that when God called me to be a preacher, God didn't mention any specific numbers.”