Creature Comforts Indeed!

“Heat the church? Spend money on a stove? Whatever For?”

The little Scottish congregation was divided; some muttered that this was going too far while others nodded in approval when the subject was brought up at the parish meeting. Other churches were installing stoves, so why not. They definitely added to the comfort of the flock — which might well mean more of the flock would come to services on chilly winter days.

Of course this touch of creature-comfort or “catering to the flesh” in the very kirk itself met with resistance from some of the older folks who’d worshiped all their lives without extra heat. You just dress warmer in winter. Any fool knows that.

No one frowned on this indulgence more than one dear old grannie I’ll call Mrs Ross. She was adamant that there was no need to heat the kirk. Her forefathers didn’t have heated churches and what was good enough for them was good enough for her—and should be good enough for the young ones. But she was outnumbered by the more self-indulgent ones in the congregation. A stove was purchased and installed.

Of course the news spread rapidly through the close-knit Scottish community. And the next Sunday was a cold day, so this old Grandmother came to church as warmly wrapped as ever — if not more so.

After the first hymns Grannie Ross removed her heavy coat with a flourish and mutters. After the opening prayer, in another protest against the unnecessary heat, she discarded her thick sweater. When the minister stood up to bring the message, Grandma put on her star performance: she took off her wool scarf, mopped the sweat from her brow and fell over in a faint.

This little act caused the sensation she’d hoped. Several members rushed to assist her. Now everyone could see the dire consequences of having the kirk heated!

As an usher helped her out of the church, he whispered in her ear, “If you’re so hot today, Mrs Ross, how much more will you suffer next Sunday when we actually light the stove?”

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8 thoughts on “Creature Comforts Indeed!

      • Sometimes it’s mind over matter — in a negative way. I remember hearing about one old woman in a certain Canadian church where German had been used in services up until the war years, then the church voted to switch to English. This old grandma complained that she couldn’t understand anything the pastor said anymore.
        One Sunday after church her children asked what she’d thought of the sermon and she gave her standard response: “I didn’t understand a word. You know I can’t understand English.” “But Mom,” they protested, “this morning’s sermon was all in German especially for the benefit of people like you.”

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    • Thanks for your comment. My ancestors were Scots, too, Lowland Scots (Gallowayshire) mind you.

      My husband’s ancestors were Puritans who emigrated to Boston 18 years after the Mayflower. They were of the same mind, no heat in the church. They brought their dogs to church and the dogs laid on their feet to keep their toes from freezing. Furthermore, it was wrong to make your beasts work on Sunday (their “Sabbath Day”) so they walked. Can you imagine what the church smelled like? Maybe a good thing not to heat it. 🙂

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