The industry of humour employs a lot of people whose job it is to make you smile or laugh. Stand-up comedians turn the air blue while late night talk shows lambaste and lay waste to celebrities and politicians. Comedy is generally crude, but not on the front lawns of churches where pastors post moral proverbs for a drive-by audience of gawkers.
John Fokkens of the Brethren In Christ Church over on Highway #3 has been turning my head for decades with his sign board of semi-profound, six-word maxims.
GOD'S LAST NAME IS NOT DAMN was the first message I got when I moved here almost 30 years ago, and I was sure it was meant to be my welcome-to-the-neighbourhood warning. NO SIN IS LITTLE cinched it. Oh yeah, they had seen me coming.
Apparently, pastors know about people like me and know how to make us feel guilty - WHAT IS MISSING FROM CH_CH? UR!
And there's one that could almost bring me back to the church - DOG SPELLED BACKWARDS IS STILL MAN'S BEST FRIEND.
Some are meant to change your attitude. BE HUMBLE OR YOU'LL STUMBLE is particularly poignant during election campaigns. And to Canadians especially - DON'T WHINE BUT SHINE.
John said that after he ran 1 WEEK WITHOUT CHURCH MAKES 1 WEAK, he got several calls about a spelling mistake.
Unlike the signs farmers post in these parts, at the Brethren In Christ Church - TRESPASSERS ARE WELCOME HERE.
A few sayings sound like Chinese proverbs - MAN WITH THICK HEAD MAKES THIN CONVERSATION. Some would make for great tattoos - LOVE MANY, TRUST FEW. PADDLE YOUR OWN CANOE. And, yes, it is important to remind yourself that EVERY DAY ABOVE GROUND IS A GOOD ONE.
This one sounds like an open invitation to join the congregation from someone with a lisp - COME 2 CHURCH 4 A FAITHLIFT.
Anne Vanderknyff at Marantha Reformed Church is a bit of a hipster when it comes to her lawn signs. JESUS IS MY ROCK AND MY NAME IS ON THE ROLL and READ THE BIBLE. IT WILL SCARE THE HELL OUT OF YOU! I have and it has.
Some signs are undeniable - IT'S HARD TO STUMBLE WHEN YOU ARE ON YOUR KNEES.
Plus Anne's big on ocean themes. MAN'S EXPERTS MADE THE TITANIC. GOD'S AMATEURS MADE THE ARK. That's a bit of one-ups-manship, craftmanship.
Some interesting church signs are now popping up on websites as well. READ THE BIBLE. IT'S USER FRIENDLY PLUS WE OFFER TECH SUPPORT ON SUNDAYS.
And it would seem the church is challenging the web head on - THERE ARE SOME QUESTIONS THAT CANNOT BE ANSWERED BY GOOGLE.
Apparently, the parking lot of the Christian Fellowship Church is attracting non-church goers but they have found a unique solution to the problem - CHURCH PARKING TRESPASSERS WILL BE BAPTISED.
Car congestion worked its way into yet another religious solution - KEEP USING MY N AME IN VAIN AND I'LL MAKE RUSH HOUR LONGER - GOD.
The Stonebridge Church of God is doing the work of the Lord and the police - HONK IF YOU LOVE JESUS, TEXT WHILE DRIVING IF YOU WANT TO MEET HIM.
And in case you believe that religion does not have a sense of humour or that futility cannot be briefly beautiful - ADAM BLAMED EVE. EVE BLAMED THE SNAKE. AND THE SNAKE DIDN'T HAVE A LEG TO STAND ON.
From The First Church of Awesome Works (what would Jesus think of that name?) comes a little homily that borders on brilliant - HOW DO WE MAKE HOLY WATER? WE BOIL THE HELL OUT OF IT!
And one that's not quite so ingenious but still a personal favourite is the sign I spotted on the lawn of a church in Fredonia, New York years ago. SERMON SUNDAY 10 A.M. IF YOU'RE TIRED OF SIN, COME IN. And underneath hand-written in red lipstick were the words - IF YOU'RE NOT, CALL RITA 716-894...
Servants of the Lord delivered these messages and we laughed at them, as we should. Humour springs eternal on the front lawns of neighbourhood churchs. Thank Dog.
William Thomas is the author of nine books of humour including The True Story of Wainfleet and Margaret and Me and The Cat Rules. For comments or ideas, visit his website at www.williamthomas.ca
SENIOR LIVING MAGAZINE APRIL 2012
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