“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?”