Getting some humility lessons

Father David Epps's picture

I fell off the platform a few Sundays ago at church. Actually, we call that area where the altar, or communion table, resides, the “sanctuary.” So, technically speaking, I fell out of the sanctuary into the chancel.

I’ve heard people say that when you fall, everything seems to be in slow motion. Not for me. I fell like a sack of bricks, missing all three steps, and crashed with a mighty thud. Fortunately, my head missed the altar rail and no one receiving Holy Eucharist was squished beyond recognition.

Dr. Kent Ford, a physician who sings on our worship team, ran over and asked, “Are you hurt?”

“Well,” I responded, “my pride is shattered, but I think I’m okay.”

One of our acolytes, Joey Pearman, said later, “I was scared because I thought you had a heart attack. After I found out you were all right, I laughed.”

My oldest son, Jason, told people after the service, “Dad saw a Hershey’s Kiss on the floor and just went after it!” Rodney Dangerfield and I share something in common.

When someone asked me later what happened, I said, “I guess God was giving me a humility lesson.” I suppose that I should be grateful that we don’t videotape our services. Otherwise, I could have wound up on America’s Funniest Home Videos.

I had on a new pair of shoes, with leather soles, that day. I am accustomed to wearing shoes with rubber soles and, as I discovered, leather is much more prone to slide on waxed hardwood than rubber. Anyway, I think that’s what happened.

Apparently, I need a lot of humility lessons. Last season, I played a couple of games for our church in the softball league. Actually, I only played because we had some guys who couldn’t show up and we would have forfeited had I not suited up. When we are at full strength, I don’t get asked to play. I am, one might say, “the last resort.”

It didn’t used to be that way. I actually have 8mm film of my playing first base in softball, playing center in high school football, and competing in karate tournaments as an 18-19-year-old. But that was then.

I can still hit the ball pretty well; however, once the ball has left the bat, there is this small matter of running to first base. Running at full speed, it takes about a month to make it to first these days.

On one occasion, I was running with all my might when I realized that, over the years, my center of gravity had shifted. I crashed into the dirt between home and first base for no other reason than I just “tipped over.” Again, thankfully, no videotape. And, yes, I was thrown out at first as I languished in the red Georgia dust.

Last week, I had to fly out of the state. As I was disrobing for the airport security people, I realized that I had lost some weight. I came to that realization when I took off my belt with the metal buckle and my suit trousers began their journey to the floor. I grabbed them before any exposure occurred but I still had to go through the metal detector holding my pants up with both hands.

If they had decided to “wand” me, where they order you to put your arms up, a misdemeanor would have occurred. And, trust me; no one wants to see me in the Atlanta airport, dressed only in my clerical collar and my undies.

So far, I have survived with my body, if not my pride, intact. Someone suggested not too long ago that we should consider videotaping our services and broadcasting them on local cable television. I think not.

I might fall off the platform again and, although some charismatics might interpret my crashing to the earth as being “slain in the Spirit” or “falling under the power,” it would likely simply be that God was just giving me another humility lesson.

Some lessons are just better received in private. And without videotape.

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