I remember the day I got the suit. It was Father’s Day, 1995. We were still living in Fort Worth and it was my first Father’s Day as a father. Kim wanted to give me something special so I went to the Men’s Wearhouse and picked out a wonderful double-breasted olive green suit. It was very sharp–back in 1995.
I was ordained in that suit.
It was the best-looking suit I had in 1999 when I came to Port Orchard during that terrifying “in view of a call,” which is Baptist speak for job interview. I wore that suit that Sunday as I preached from the book of Ruth after having interviewed with the deacons, the worship ministry people, the mean woman who demanded a private interview, the pastoral search team (one more time!) and was insulted over and over again about my age and my Texas accent. Some even poked fun at me because my name is Greening and the suit was olive green.
I wore that suit under my doctoral robes when I graduated from Beeson.
I will never wear that suit again. Yesterday I wore the trousers that go with it, with a sweater, a white buttoned down, and a goofy Christmas tie. I left the jacket off because double-breasted really isn’t fashionable right now.
As I came out from my study before the first service, it was brought to my attention that the Christmas card box was not on display and that I needed to get it. So I went to the garage to fetch the box. In doing so, I split my trousers. The split started on the seam, which would have been easily repairable, but then it ripped out in both directions, if you know what I mean.
I felt the cold dampness of the garage in a way that I had never felt it before.
I didn’t have time to waste, though, because I knew I had to get that box out before people got mad–and the way the morning had been going I couldn’t handle anyone else mad. So I just ignored the rip and went on with my work. No one really noticed, but I knew, and felt its presence.
By the time everything got taken care of and I had to take care of a half-of-a-dozen other problems that emerged, there was only about 3 minutes left before the 9:30 service was to begin. What to do? I couldn’t preach with a rip in my pants. Someone would certainly spot it, not to mention the ah, shall we say, confidence problem it would cause in my mind.
Well, I asked one of our ladies whom I know sews if she had any pins or, preferably safety pins on her. No dice. Now I’m down to two minutes. Safety pins made me think of diapers, which took me to the preschool. “Are there any safety pins in here?” I asked the deacon who was serving back there. “No, no pins. We’ve got a stapler though. Why?”
“Great–staples! That will work.”
“Why?” asked the deacon again.
“I ripped my crotch! Give me the stapler.” I tried to staple myself but alas, my short fat arms are not long enough to cover the necessary terrain for this very, very delicate task. I turned to my friend, our deacon, a trusted brother in Christ and asked, “Can you staple my crotch?”
“Noooooooooooo,” he said as he just simply walked away.
Now I”m down to about 30 seconds before service starts. I am desperate and I see my oldest daughter walk by. I called her name and said come here. I told her what happened and asked her to patch me. Quickly and efficiently she did just that (THANK YOU). I walked into the worship center and the service had begun. I put my microphone on as I sat in the front row while the first song was sung by the children’s department. I preached twice, with a rip, worried the whole time about revealing a part of me to the congregation I, and they, would rather not reveal.
Goodbye, once sharp and snazzy double breasted suit. At least you went out with a bang–or should I say split?