Snake Charmer in the Pulpit?

Although I have a good sense of humor and enjoy things that are genuinely humorous, I’m not normally a laugh-out-loud kind of guy. If something is funny, I’m most apt to smile at it. It has to be outrageously funny for me to actually laugh.

PastorJeff     PastorBrauer2

My minister, Pastor Jeff Brauer, is a great story teller, though. Most of his tales are about his days working on the railroad when he was a bi-vocational minister–that means he served a church that couldn’t afford to pay him a living and worked on the railroad to supplement his pastoral  earnings. His ability to remember the people, the personalities, and the incidents from those days is amazing, and his reflections on the past frequently end up as sermon illustrations.

But one Sunday night he felt inspired to share a tale that was neither railroad- nor sermon-related. I hope I can do it justice.

He’d been called on to conduct a funeral service for someone who was associated with our church, but not actually a member.

After the service, he, the family, and friends of the deceased headed outside for the burial at the church cemetery, a distance of just a few yards. He arrived first and–upon looking at whatever had been put down for people to walk on where the chairs for family had been placed–he noticed a snake crawling around. Nothing poisonous and probably no more than fifteen to twenty inches in length. Big enough to cause a major distraction if spotted by the rest of the funeral party.

It must’ve disappeared for a few minutes, but while Pastor Brauer was sitting down, it came slithering in his direction. Still concerned that the reptile not cause a disruption, he put his foot down on it. Not hard enough to squish it, but enough to immobilize it.

Then he reached down as inconspicuously as possible and started working his hand towards the head until he could grasp it without getting bit. (I can tell you from personal experience that non-poisonous snakes are still capable of biting.) Then, still holding it behind the head, he stuffed it into his pocket and waiting for a safe time to throw it a safe distance away.

I can’t recall whether that was during a prayer, when most people would’ve had their eyes closed.

Later, the funeral director approached Pastor Brauer. “Are you one of those snake charming preachers?”

“Only when I have to be.”

The congregation roared at this tale, and I–for once–was roaring in delight along with them. Laughing aloud felt great!

Have you ever experienced something that makes a great humorous tale? How about sharing it here with the rest of us in a comment?


I’ll be back again on Wednesday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

“On Aging Gracelessly” is only one of my two blogs. I post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years on  “As I Come Singing.” Check it out HERE if you’re interested.  Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. View the list HERE.

If you enjoy my writing, you’ll find a number of things to read on my website. Also music to listen to and music-related videos to watch.

My new novel, The Devil and Pastor Gus, is out now. If you’re interested, please check it out at Amazon.

Best regards,

Tribute to a Friend

For almost all of my adult life, my best friends have always been women, and my wife is my best friend of all time.

But during my mid-twenties, I had a couple of special male friends, too. And one of those was Morgan Dilver.

Morgan was a very dark black man who specialized in making people laugh. I’ll never forget this tale.

A drunk walked up to him on the street one day.  “Are you a Negro?”  (Yes, that’s the word he used.)

Morgan rolled his eyes as only he could do and said, “No, I’m from Mexico.”

The drunk looked at him kind of funny. “I’ve never met anyone from Mexico before.”

Morgan rolled his eyes again. “Well, this is what we look like.”

Morgan was a teacher—or was he a counselor? It’s been a very long time. *sigh* But he also served as the girls’ cheering squad coach at the local high school. And once he demonstrated to me the cheer he would have taught his girls if he’d had a mute cheering squad. Too funny to attempt to describe here.

We used to take an occasional Saturday day trip to Ocean City, Maryland—we drove the sixty miles in his big white car–“The Ghost.” We had the most fun laughing at the reactions of people who stared at him in disbelief when he sat there on the blanket slathering on an overabundance of suntan lotion.

In 1972 I wrote a rock opera which a cast of fifty or sixty people participated in our single performance of. Morgan soloed as John the Baptist. The Bible says this about John’s food and apparel: “John wore clothing made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey.” Morgan borrowed some sort of camel-colored fur from his mother for the occasion.

Hmm. Maybe not quite biblical, but 100% Morgan.

When my first wife and I were getting married—nine hundred miles from my home in Maryland—Morgan and Bob, another good friend, drove through a snow storm to be groomsmen in the wedding. We weren’t sure how people would react to our having a black participant, but we loved Morgan for who he was. If anyone had an issue with his race, that was their problem.

Morgan won folks over in typical style. Especially my grandmother-in-law to be.

Once I was married, Morgan didn’t play as important a role in my life as he’d done previously, and we lost touch with him completely after moving to Richmond in 1984.

I’m not even sure how or when we found out that he’d died—he wouldn’t have been much over forty if he was even that old—but I still miss him.

Lord, I know he’s keeping You laughing up there in Heaven, and I can hardly wait to catch up on all of the stories I’ve missed or forgotten about.

P.S. I regret not having any pictures of Morgan to include with this post.


If you have memories of a special friend, won’t you share them with a comment?

I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, just go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

By the way, “On Aging Gracelessly” isn’t my only blog. I use “As I Come Singing”check it out here—to post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years. Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. Check here to see the list.

Best regards,