by Linda Curtis Nov 2010
Few people knew our pastor was a Harley rider at first. He only rode early in the morning on Saturdays when school buses were parked and the school children and teacher reveled in a late morning sleep. Pastor Gremmin was up this particular November Sunday because the Harley-Davidson dealership in the next county was sponsoring a blessing of the bikes at a very large church with a very large parking lot. Dozens of Harley riders roared into town on different roads to meet for a blessing, a spiritual security.
So it did not seem strange for Pastor Gremmin to take the blessing idea one step further and apply it to the upcoming holiday: Thanksgiving. Since the riders would likely say a blessing over their Thanksgiving meal with their own family, why not pre-empt that with a blessing of the turkey, before it was roasted. Most of the parishioners lived within a fair riding distance of the church so he thought it might be just the innovative church activity to report in his summary of his first year in the ministry.
After the bike blessing, Pastor announced the turkey blessing at his church for the day
before Thanksgiving. After all, he had participated in a blessing of the animals and it all went well, at least, so far. Most of the riders seemed pleased with the idea and rode off with a new commitment to attain even another blessing. You can’t have too many blessings, especially with the Father, Son, and holy roast.
And that Saturday, they did come with roasting pans secured to the passenger seats, color full containers each holding a thawing turkey, Pastor was surprised to see so many in the
congregation and enlisted the help of an usher to release each pew of black-leather clad
riders in sequence, so no more than six riders stood before the pastor at a time, lids open to receive the blessing. All went well as he had rehearsed his blessing several times the night before on his wife, who remarked that their turkey was not attending, he’d have to bless it at home.
It was the fourth pew of riders that carried their turkey roasters to the alter that began a strange series of events. The last of them had a pre-cooked turkey, with plenty of grease in the bottom of the pan, and that is what leaked out onto the aisle floor, unseen by all. On their return to their pew, the first rider in line slipped on the grease, throwing the pan and turkey into the air where the turkey struck the vase of flowers, knocking it off the counter, splashing the nearest person, then skittering down to the open cold air vent where it disappeared.
A loud “thunk” meant it had landed on top of the furnace in the church basement. The custodian was standing nearby with the freshly washed grill, set to replace it. Instead,
now, he got on his hands and knees and peered into the vent opening, but saw nothing.
“I sure hope the Pastor has a prayer for this,” he said to himself. He stood up and shrugged to the wide-eyed congregation. The Pastor announced that since the turkey had been blessed, it was safe, and just needed retrieving. The owner of the turkey, however, was not so confident and wondered if his wife would believe him when he explained he’d lost their turkey in a church furnace, and not on the road, as she would be more likely to believe.
The rest of the turkeys were blessed, the furnace repair man was called who disassembled
the vent above the furnace, and recovered the turkey, so all was well. So much so, that the blessing of the turkeys became an annual event with riders from all over transporting their frozen birds in colorful roaster pans on the day before Thanksgiving. Eventually, there were bands, parade floats, and the mayor spoke, who was, of course, a Harley Dude, himself. The pastor received praise from townspeople who benefited from extra sales, and the media who put the town on the map so tourists could come and see the new statue of the mayor on his bike with a large turkey strapped to the back.
copyright © 2014 Linda Curtis, botanist