The Psychedelic Parrot and the Pink Tiger: Just Another Morning at VEV

I've been part of VEV for 25 years and there's rarely a dull moment. This past Sunday was no exception. It was my first Sunday back in a serving capacity after a 2-week vacation. I was supposed to be leading the service but I was struggling to even get there due to a nasty earache and sinus infection I had been battling for over a week. We parked our car next to Pandora spray park, a block away from the church, where we could handily access a picnic lunch after church. I'm sure it was due to all the meds I had been on, but as I got out of the car, I was suddenly hit with a stomach cramp. All I can say is that I'm grateful for public washrooms at city parks, and I will say no more about that! I sent Kathleen on ahead to assure those who needed to know that I was still coming! 

I arrived just as the bells were ringing, woozy and disoriented as I walked up the stairs. The first people to greet me were Scott, one of our dear hospitality people, and a stranger, a middle-aged lady with a giant parrot on her shoulder! It was very colourful and reminded me of the psychedelic posters I had put up on my bedroom when I was a teenager. 

Scott introduced her to me and said, "This lady wants to know if she can bring her parrot to church. Is that ok?" 

Well, I was not ready for this, mentally or spiritually, and all I could think of was how that some mainline churches actually have a "pet blessing Sunday" in their worship year. I wondered what anointing this parrot with oil would look like. I fumbled to process out loud, "Hmmm... let me think, are there safety issues? Food safe or health concerns...? " Spontaneously trying to lighten the mood a bit, I asked, "Does your bird heckle?" The owner replied, "No, but I do." We then exchanged some friendly banter and I said,"Well, I'll err to the side of welcome, and as long as the owner behaves, I'm sure the parrot can come too!" So, in she came and sat on the back bench on the right hand section. 

I later found out from Scott that this lady had come to church before on another Sunday when I was away, asking for me. Apparently she knew me from my Calgary days in the 1980's, but she informed Scott that she was now quite jaded about church. Hmmm...  Anyway, she found the right church, as we are all in various shades of jade here at VEV! 

I didn't think much more of it until later when I was leading the service, I looked out at the audience and saw the psychedelic parrot sitting on the back row in all of its glory! Both owner and bird seemed to be enjoying the service. Remarkably, on the opposite side of the church, on the same row, I was startled to see a massive multi-coloured headdress, being worn by Judah, one of our primary aged kids, not unlike the plumage worn by a Roman army general, but much more colourful!  From that distance, the plumage on the left side of the church looked like a perfect match to the parrot on the right side of the church! Only I and our worship team could see it. It looked like it had all been orchestrated, like the church was in perfect balance and symmetry, as though someone had designed some "visual choreography" to enhance our worship! 

At kids' blessing, I helped some of our parents accompany our preschool and primary aged kids to the Pandora Spray park where I had parked my car. There, at the park, I had a conversation with Judah and asked him about his outfit, as I then saw that he was also wearing a cape to go with his headdress. He was also holding a sword-like object with a tennis ball stuck into the end of it, to avoid impaling other kids on the playground. Good thinking.  He informed me that he had invented a new superhero. I asked him what the name of the superhero was and he replied, "The Pink Tiger!"

Conversing later with Judah's dad, Matt, I found out that they had found the headdress at a local yard sale. Matt had agreed to get it for Judah as a compromise for Judah's request for a Mohawk haircut. Indeed, close up, the headdress looked like a punk rock version of a Mohawk! 

Meanwhile all our preschoolers and primary kids did some paint art on the sidewalk, thanks to Amy who generously shared her paint set she had recently received for her birthday for all the kids to enjoy.  Wow! I'm really slow on the take with a camera and I wish I could say that I had a photo of the headdress and the parrot, especially during worship. I didn't get one but I did manage to capture our preschool and primary sidewalk art.

Yes, just another Sunday morning at VEV, but one I won't soon forget. I have no great spiritual insight to offer and no great spiritual breakthrough of the coming kingdom to report. It's just life coming at me with all its twists, turns, and surprises, and God in the middle of it all, laughing uproariously.