My best friend is the Reverend Dr. Gary DeMore, pastor of Saint John’s United Methodist Church in Augusta, Georgia. Gary and I have been good friends since seminary, back in the last century. We were an interesting pair as we didn’t attend all of the classes. We did attend some, but there were more interesting things to study outside the buildings.
As I said, Gary is my best friend. When I’ve needed help, Gary has always been there. When I woke up from heart surgery, Gary was there. When I was going into surgery for carotid artery surgery Gary was there. When my wife Geri died, Gary was there and Gary and his brother Phil celebrated her service of resurrection. When my wife Lynn (Ms. Parson) died, Gary was there and he and his brother Phil celebrated her service of resurrection, also.
Gary is a plain spoken fellow. Gary tells the truth. I remember sitting in the dean’s office at seminary when the dean was trying to evaluate a new program, called supervised ministry the students had gone through that year. We were sitting in a circle. One after another the students poured effusive praise on the dean about the program. “Oh, Dean, this has been so meaningful to me.” It went on an on. Finally, the dean asked Gary what he thought.
“I’ll pass,” said Gary.
“No, Gary. You can’t pass,” said the Dean. “I want everyone’s input.”
“Okay,” said Gary. “Basically, it was an earthenware pot full of excrement.” (Note that here I have used theologically acceptable words to describe what Gary actually said.)
The above is just to give you a glimpse into why Gary is so dear to me. But there’s one other reason. Since graduating from seminary, Gary and I have had this deal. Whatever I write he can use without giving me credit. And what he writes I can use without giving him credit. We’ve been known to swap sermons. Truth be told, I’ve never failed to give him credit. And I’m sure he’s never used any of my stuff without giving me credit. His folks would have noticed the step down.
I’ve tried over the years to get Gary to write on the internet, to get a blog. He won’t. He should. Here’s a sample of his writing from this past May 3rd issue of his church’s newsletter:
“My dear friend Chris was telling me about a woman who shot up a McDonald’s restaurant ‘somewhere’ because the person who prepared her burger had failed to add the bacon. He had heard the story on the radio, but couldn’t remember the details. He thought they maybe said something about Michigan, but he wasn’t sure.
“So, I naturally went to the Internet to see what I could find out. I typed in ‘McDonald’s shooting,” and discovered that there had been recent shootings at McDonald’s restaurants in Toronto, Chicago, and Houston. I read all three articles, even though none of those cities are in Michigan, but I didn’t find any reference to bacon. Undaunted, I moved on.
“I typed in ‘McDonald’s bacon’ and finally found my story. It happened in Grand Rapids, Michigan, in February of 2014, and it was in the recent news because the woman who opened fire as gone to trial and has been sentenced for her crime.
“The story unfolds with our hungry citizen ordering a bacon cheeseburger at the drive-thru window of her local McDonald’s. When she received her food, she opened the bag to check her order. One should always to that. Back in the day, when I actually went to McDonald’s and used the drive-thru, I never checked my order. More that once, much to my dismay, I arrived home with someone else’s food. So, the protagonist of our story did well to check her order. Alas, they had failed to put the bacon on her burger, and she asked them to re-do her order. As far as the story goes, she was pleasant enough about that, and sat patiently while her order was redone.
“Regrettably, when they brought her burger to her the second time, they had again failed to add the bacon. That was when she pulled out her gun and fired a shot through the drive-thru window. Fortunately, no one was hurt, but I imagine one or two of the employees tried a bit harder their next day at work to fill their orders correctly.
“As the lady stood before the court, the judge asked her if she had anything to say. ‘Well, I’m sorry it happened,’ she said, ‘but it’s over and done with now, and I’m ready to move on.’ The judge thought so, too. He moved her on to the state prison, where she will serve a 3-7 year jail term for ‘discharging’ a weapon at a building.
“Now, I can’t speak for this woman, about what was going on in her head, or about what kind of day she had had the day she opened up on that restaurant. I don’t know anything about her home life, or anything about the people who might have had some influence on her life along the way.
“What I do know, though, is that an unforgiving spirit is an awful thing. An unforgiving spirit had been the genesis of wars, broken homes, and shattered friendships. An unforgiving spirit has splintered churches, divided nations, and left the bodies of the innocents in it wake.
“When I read that article I couldn’t help but think of Peter’s conversation with Jesus regarding forgiveness as recorded in Matthew’s gospel.
“‘Then Peter came and said to him, ‘Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy times seven.’
“That poor lady couldn’t make it all the way to two.”
—- Thanks Gary. I was really busy. I made a vow to once again, regularly post something on this blog. But last night I decided to watch the USA Women win the World Cup. I couldn’t have watched it without you. I'm so glad you're my friend.