Always the Stewardess!

I was talking to a friend recently who used a phrase I’d never heard. He was speaking about pastors usually attempting to be upbeat and personal, and said, “Always the stewardess!”

Even as old as I am, I’ve never heard that term before. I suspect, given the disappearance of the word “stewardess,” I might never hear it again. I don’t think there are any stewardesses these days. They’re all flight attendants (men included). Still, I get it.

Stewardesses Were the Best

In the old days, at least, the stewardesses were expected to be bubbly, smiley, polite and helpful. I don’t know if the flight attendants of today are expected to be the same. For the most part, I’ve not found them to be like that, but I’m not the most frequent of fliers.

Just as importantly, I’ve not found too many pastors who are like that either. I know I’m not. These days, people are more likely to be themselves rather than put it on.

The problem with always being the stewardess is that no one ever knows the real you. Of course, the problem with not always being the stewardess is that people can get put off very quickly. There are expectations, you know.

I remember years ago, I was serving a congregation in a full-time pastoral capacity. Due to the workload, we developed a policy that stated the pastor would only perform wedding ceremonies for people who were an active part of the congregation.

I’m Definitely NOT a Stewardess

One day, a man and his daughter showed up at my home asking if I would perform the daughter’s wedding. I was on my way out the door to a meeting, so I gave them a brochure that explained the policy and asked them to look it over and give me a call.

The man looked at me and said, “You’re not much of a pastor, are you?” I wasn’t in a particularly good mood to begin with, but when he said that, I definitely proved that I’m not “always the stewardess.” I wasn’t ignorant, or anything, but I’m sure my change of tone gave away my displeasure.

This whole train of thought causes me to wonder if Jesus was always the stewardess (so to speak). I know he wasn’t such when he was confronted by his Pharisee contemporaries, but how was he with everyone else? The Bible doesn’t really give us much insight to his actual personality. We can tell that he was kind and compassionate, so our immediate impression is that he was very affable. Still, a person can be kind and compassionate without being bubbly, smiley and over-polite. I suppose we’ll never know on this side of the bar.

The Apostle Paul did tell us things like, “Be kind and compassionate to one another…” He wanted us to be like that, but he didn’t say Jesus was like that. He did add, however, that we should be forgiving like Jesus (Ephesians 4:32).

I guess I should be just be content to know I’ve been forgiven.

[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and currently the pastor of Smith Chapel in Great Falls, VA.]

The DMV Revisited

A few days ago, I wrote a blog entitled My Recent Adventure at the DMV. It was quite an amazing visit and definitely by far my best venture into the forays of institutionalized vehicular management. In brief, it was short and sweet—not something everyone can attest to when trekking there.

While there, I had to fill out a form (surprise, surprise). This brief questionnaire was going to help the State of Virginia do several things for me. It would enable them to renew my driver’s license, change my physical address (I just moved), and transfer my voting registration to my current location.

It was a Governmental Miracle

The fact that one, solitary form was going to suffice for all these things has to be some sort of governmental miracle. Not since Jesus multiplied the loaves and fishes (Matthew 15:29-39) has there been a proliferation of such magnitude. The knowledge that the regime devised this magnificent instrument boggles the imagination.

In filling out said form, I had to answer some simple questions to help our local gendarmes properly identify me—should the case arise. Among them, I had to verify my age and my weight. Since driver’s licenses are only issued once every ninety-nine years or so (give or take), both of these things had changed significantly. The weight thing particularly irritated me, but I couldn’t lie. It’s becoming more and more obvious these days that I no longer weight 145 pounds.

But it was another question that really caught me by surprise. There it was—a blank line preceded by the phrase, “hair color.” That’s a simple query—one that I’ve answered a thousand times in my life. I quickly began to pencil in the letter “b” for brown when an unknown force stopped me dead in my tracks. For some reason, it hit me like a sledgehammer that my hair was no longer brown.

No, I haven’t dyed my flowing brunette locks. It has turned gray (which I fully blame on God, himself—if Adam can blame God for Eve’s faux pas, I can blame him for my colorless coiffe–Genesis 3:11-12). I knew this fact before, but having to put it down in black and white (for the government, no less) was a tad unnerving.

“Replete with the silver locks…”

To make matters worse, the young lady assisting me looked at my picture on the old license and chuckled. Then she quipped, “We’re definitely going to have to take a new picture of you.” I’m not sure I saw the humor in that, but I now have a fresh ID photo…replete with the silver locks I now sport.

Just to make myself feel better, I launched into a short rant about how I used to have this wonderful head of hair for which many women would have died. She listened patiently, nodding and smiling as I prattled on. As I look back on it, her patience has to be another DMV miracle. I’ve never experienced that quality from them before. God is good (even at the DMV)!

[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and is currently pastor of Smith Chapel in Great Falls, VA.]

The Decapitated Santa

As we head into the New Year, I have to get something off my chest. I’m married to a woman who is all about decorating. If it doesn’t move, she’ll decorate it. If it does move, she still may decorate it. (If you visit us, make sure you keep breathing.)

Consequently, there are Christmas decorations all over our home. One such decoration is prominently displayed in our living room each yuletide season. It always hangs from the center of the fireplace mantle—front and center.

I don’t know. Maybe I’ve watched one too many episodes of Game of Thrones, but this decoration looks like the head of a decapitated Santa to me. There’s no blood on him, but he keeps looking at me with a face that says, “Why didn’t you stop this when you had the chance?”

“He’s right, of course.”

He’s right, of course. I didn’t do the dastardly deed myself, but I’m definitely an enabler. Each year, I carry the box containing the corpus delicti up from the basement and present it to my lovely Bride. Before I know it, our victory over Saint Nick is conspicuously flaunted once again. It’s not on a spike, mind you, but the violent overtones can be sensed as one walks through the room.

This cephalic symbol of the season of giving is rather oxymoronic as far as I’m concerned. We “take” Santa’s head, and (in its presence) “give” gifts to all our friends and loved ones. It’s an overused phrase (but in this instance, a highly appropriate one)—“Oh, the humanity!”

I’ve never brought this up to my spouse. I almost always leave the decorating up to her. Moreover, I just don’t feel the need to place myself in harm’s way over a long-dead head. It might not even be the real Santa, after all. It might simply be one of his “helpers” as they say. Still, it causes an uneasy feeling when I see my granddaughter staring at it.

So, hopefully, my wife won’t read this. I would also appreciate any of you readers keeping this to yourselves. I would hate this to get out. I hear the IRS audits people who keep nefarious heads lying around. We don’t need the authorities sniffing around our digs. I’m getting a bit too old to fight those battles anymore.

“I’m afraid to ask.”

To be perfectly honest, I’m not at all sure how Santa lost his head. I wasn’t around, and frankly, I’m afraid to ask. I just obediently carry the box upstairs in December and back down in January. Mum’s the word.

The whole thing puts me in mind of Herod’s stepdaughter, Salome. You know the one. She asked for John the Baptist’s head on a platter (Matthew 14:1-12). It wasn’t her idea–it was her mother’s. Even so, she did what her mother asked. Because of that, she’s the one we remember.

I can see it all now. “Yeah! Dave Zuchelli is the one who used to carry Santa’s head up and down the stairs each year.”

[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and is currently pastor of Smith Chapel in Great Falls, VA.]