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“Arise, shine for thy light is come and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee…”

Isaiah 60: 1-3

When I was in college, one class I had to take was World Religions. At the time I thought the information I would glean might come in handy during my career in journalism. Turns out I was right. The class was tasked with attending a religious service that each of us had not participated in previously. I had attended and written about several different religious services and members of the clergy as a reporter so finding one I was unfamiliar with within 50 miles was a challenge. Call it coincidence or Kismet but I happened to see a poster for an old fashioned tent revival that was coming to the area within a few weeks. Visions of an Elmer Gantry-style service crossed my mind and I decided to attend.

I wasn’t disappointed. (It turned out to be a great awakening of sorts.) My husband and I entered a large tent. Several rows of folding chairs filled the rather large tent. Many people were already seated but we found a spot. The service began with a hymn that I did not recognize. A person spoke briefly then introduced the speaker. He strode in from behind the side curtain. He was a tall man, dressed in black but not wearing a clerical collar. He stood before the group not immediately speaking but seemingly eyeing the people in attendance. Then he spoke with a voice that made the canvas tent’s walls shudder. He sounded like thunder; booming and striding back and forth, hell-fire and brimstone oozing from each word. A real, true apocalyptic purveyor of doom. We couldn’t wait to get out of that stifling tent and into the fresh evening air.

Fast forward 20 or so years and I find myself seated in a pew in a beautiful church listening to a priest speak gentle comforting words of Jesus’ love for all of us. His voice is clear, not preachy or pushy, yet firm with words to instill confidence that Jesus is our savior and He is there beside us always. The words are clear as is the message, but the presentation is what shines. Our Father Joe is as humble as he is sincere and we listen to each word he speaks with reverence for the message and the messenger. His words always help define what we need to do as Christians. Our church is blessed to have Father Joe as our priest and I for one am grateful to hear his words shine through.

By D.A. Higgins


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