You judge me by human standards, but I do not judge anyone. And if I did, my judgment would be correct in every respect because I am not alone. The Father who sent me is with me. Your own law says that if two people agree about something, their witness is accepted as fact. I am one witness and my Father is the other.” (John 8: 15 – 18)
Are you ready for our walk today? It is rather icy outside so we are going to have to be rather careful that we don’t fall. Once upon a time I did not worry about that, but now that I am the age I am, I know that it can take a very long time to recuperate from a serious fall.
I was going to suggest to you that we meet by that small, and yet to be, gothic chapel. That is in my future, God willing, a chapel that is ten feet by ten feet with a small stained glass window. It will be a good place for our walk to begin. It will be a place of meditation and reflection, that is, if it comes to pass. We will see; one always has to have a dream.
We are going to have two people join us on our walk today, and they will be strangely attired. You see, we are going to have two clowns walk with us; that’s correct – two clowns. I don’t know how you feel about clowns, but they have never been overly well liked by me; don’t know why, just a feeling inside me.
The first clown I ever remember seeing, if I recall correctly, was Emmet Kelly of the Ringling Brother’s Circus. He looked like a hobo and he would stand in one of the circus rings staring down at a great circle of light. Then he would begin to sweep the edges of the light around and around until it was a very tiny circle. I believe he would then pick it up in his dustpan. As this clown was far away from me, I was not disturbed to see him. But other clowns?
Here they come now – One is named Al and the other is Doug. You may not feel comfortable around clowns with their make up and strange eyes and lips, but I assure you these are two of the finest men you will ever meet.
Al was a Shriner clown who always carried balloons that could be shaped into animals or could be made into a soft, harmless dagger. Young boys liked those daggers or swords. He might even have some balloons in his pocket when he attended church. Al had a soft kind voice and a gentle, thoughtful manner. His smile was a broad wonderful smile; he was a man of honor and principle. When I saw Al, he would call to mind my dad, and you know how much I honored my father.
The other clown is Doug. Doug always wanted to be a clown. He had cancer that had taken away physical beauty from his face. As a clown, one would not know just how much surgery had disfigured him. His dream of becoming a clown became a reality before he passed away for he had become a Shriner’s clown. This meant so very much to him. He would attend chapel faithfully with his wife and his sister. The day came when Doug would no longer walk this earth and a memorial service, a funeral, had to be planned for him. I was to officiate at the service.
Now being a pastor, and I suppose somewhat reserved and old fashioned, I was shocked to learn that clowns would attend the service and stand as an honor guard. Driving to the funeral home, I could not imagine what that would be like to see many clowns at a funeral service.. How glad I was that no one was near when I saw one clown at the head and another at the foot of Doug’s casket. It was one of the most touching, heart stilling times of my life. Expressionless, the two clowns stood there proudly as a brother clown was passed by those who knew him. I stood there trying to hold back tears that were welling up in my heart and in my eyes.
Quiet filled my soul and the room until there was very loud laughter heard. The laughter came from Doug’s family. Several clowns were passing by to offer their condolences when the family began to smile and then laugh and laugh again.
This pastor learned at the end of the visiting hours that one of the clowns had stopped to offer the family a handkerchief. What was funny about a cloth to catch your tears? That handkerchief was the size of one square inch. How could you not stop for a moment and laugh.
Here are Al and Doug now. Welcome, good clowns, to our walk. You and your kindness and love for children will never be forgotten. We are pleased your dreams were met.
Jesus must have had a smile on His face when He greeted Al and Doug. Jesus was one who never judged quickly or without reason. He went to many strange people, some ill and disfigured, some considered sinners and the worst of society, some who were emotionally unstable, and He loved them. He saw deep into their souls regardless of their outward appearance. We need to imitate the way of our Lord. When someone seems strange to us or acts differently from the way we act, we need to stop and remember to look at the heart and soul of that person who chooses or has to be different from others.
Clowns, I may never be overly comfortable around clowns, but Al and Doug – how much I love and respect them both. How they continue to teach me, like Jesus teaches, to look deep into the hearts of others who are unlike me.
And now until our next walk together, “ May the Lord watch between me and thee while we are absent one from the other.”
In Memory or Al Nelson and Douglas Teer
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