Speaking Engagements

Written by Don Reid on July 23rd, 2009 Posted in General

If you have visited my website before, you may have noticed I post many of my speaking engagments.  You also may have noticed that I try to delete them immediately after I’ve fulfilled them.  This comes from a lifetime pet peeve of seeing the circus poster still in the drugstore’s window two months after the animals have left town.  Even as a kid, I always wanted to go in and rip them out of the window.  So I try ( and just watch – I’ll probably slip up and leave an old announcement on here longer than I should) to keep the postings up to date.  I usually only post the ones open to the public.

I’m not real sure how I got to being a pulpit supply.  I never intended to be a preacher and am certainly not qualified.  But after my first book came out in 2002, I started getting requests to speak at clubs and booksignings and book conventions, mainly talking about the book and how and why I wrote it.  This was fun and I did only the ones I wanted to and felt comfortable doing.  Then the minister at my home church, Joe Brandon at Olivet Presbyterian, nudged me into turning that book talk into a Sunday morning message.  I’ve been teaching a Sunday School class there for 25 or 30 years (I’ve lost accurate count) and one week when he had to be gone the next Sunday on a family emergency, he said to me, “Would you just tell them a Bible story or something next week in the pulpit?”  Trying to be a responsible Elder, I said, “Sure, anything I can do to help.”  And thus started the pulpit supply.  He continued to ask when he was gone and other ministers asked and pretty soon I was doing more ‘sermons’ than book talks.

To be completely honest, I don’t say yes to every request.  I like teaching my Sunday school class each Sunday at Olivet and don’t like being gone a lot.  My son, Langdon, is my assistant teacher and always covers for me.  So call it contentment or just retired, I sometimes say “yes” and sometimes “no thank you”.

But I got a call recently that I just couldn’t refuse.  A lady from the Springhill Presbyterian Church in Springhill, Va asked me to come speak at their morning worship service.  Now Springhill is not even a blip on the map.  There ‘s not more than two dozen houses in the little village that the church sits in the heart of.  Lots of farms in the area and lots of good country folks who fill the pews every week.  But the main draw for me was this was where my mother was born.  This was her church.  This is the church she attended as a little girl.  The one she moved from when she came to town and got married.  She and my grandparents and so many loved ones called this little white, steepled church home for so many wonderful years.  And there I was back….home.

I felt her presence when I stood in the old wooden pulpit.  I saw her in the faces of so many of the people who knew her and had stories and comments to share with me about her at the end of the service.  And I did something that Sunday morning I haven’t told anyone about.  Whenever they ask me if I want to choose the hymns on these speaking engagements, I always say yes because that way I can be assured we’ll sing some of the old ones.  And I said yes, I’ll pick them when Springhill asked because I knew what I wanted to do.

I smiled when the congregation stood and we sang the first one, “Revive Us Again”.  And I smiled and got a warm feeling down inside on the next one, “There Shall Be Showers Of Blessing”.  But on the last one, the smile faded and I saw tears in my eyes and felt them on my cheeks when we sang, “Blessed Assurance”.

That was Mom’s favorite.  And I did it all for her.

DR         July 23, 2009   1:20pm