One of my favorite people to see, hear and be around as a youth was comedian/singer Wendy Bagwell.
Well, not just as a youth, I still enjoy hearing his wonderful stories that amused and his music with the Sunliters – Jan Buckner and Geraldine Morrison that uplifted.
He always had such a unique way to bring a situation to life as he told a story. Folks just found great enjoyment in watching him tell a story and he had so many of them.
His most famous comedy story was easily “Here Come the Rattlesnakes” where he describes their adventures while singing at a snake handling church.
It is amazing what one runs across while on the road performing. I am sure that was an experience they never expected to have.
As you travel you find an endless run of restaurants, truck stops, and hotels and each performance night you arrive a new venue meeting new folks and finding some amazing experiences.
That is the blessing of life, the experiences that God opens to us as we make our way through life.
Up until to a recent trip to Canada though, I had managed to not visit a church service in which the serpent was taken up.
Now that’s not to say that I have polled every church I visited to know that particular leap of faith was not practiced, but if I have been in one, I just wasn’t aware of it.
I never thought I would see it so far outside the South though, but the experience was in Southern Canada. I guess that counts.
One of my favorite places to go is an old time camp meeting at a campground and I was so excited to gather with folks at the Silver Lake Wesleyan Camp.
I was on a package tour with my friends the Watkins Family and we were finishing a string of concerts.
The tabernacle there was originally a huge rounded top dairy barn that could serve a large congregation. We arrived mid-afternoon to set up and the enjoyed a roast beef dinner with many of the camp attendees before preparing for our show.
Folks gathered in and filled the seats for an evening of worship through music and a short message by a gifted speaker.
As the evening progressed the audience was so engrossed in the music that as the altar call performance of “Pass Me Not” reached its second verse, it wasn’t surprising when a lady named Mary began shouting in the second row.
Well maybe it was surprising, I didn’t know that Wesleyans shouted, in fact our host minister Dave, told me he thought revival was breaking out and expected to turn to see a woman slain in the spirit.
However, it didn’t take long to realize that the shouts came as a result of a serpent which had went unnoticed by the audience or us on stage as it meandered it’s way all the way to the second row of this large building and tried to wrap itself around this lady’s foot. Quickly, Pastor Dave, and others all jumped to her aid pulling the snake from her feet in front of the first row. Dave put his foot on it and tried to pick it up as it snapped at him and another visiting singer – Mark, reached over, took up the serpent by the tail and escorted it out of the building.
Safely, I can say without question that was the first time I ever saw Wesleyans pass around a snake during an altar call song.
Amazingly, unlike Geraldine’s threat in Wendy’s story, none of the Watkins made a new door at the back of the stage, in fact they didn’t miss a word, a beat or drop a note as the tune continued and Pastor Dave made his way up to the altar for the final invitation.
It wasn’t a rattlesnake like Wendy’s, but that garter snake started folks to shoutin’ from surprise but God got them leaving with a smile on their faces.
Look out Wendy, Here Come the Garter Snakes. It doesn’t quite have the same ring to it though.