Mrs. Irby comes to the wrong church — or comes to the church wrong

Copyright 2012 by Bob Rogers

A Baptist pastor accepted the call to a church in Sledge, Mississippi. The day that he moved in, a 90-year-old woman drove up and greeted him in his driveway. “I’m Mrs. Irby,” she said. “I was a Presbyterian until my husband died, then I went back to the Methodist Church. But I don’t ever intend on coming to your church. I just came by to say welcome to the community.” With that, she drove off, spinning wheels and throwing dirt and rocks all over the new pastor.

So the pastor was surprised months later, when Mrs. Irby showed up one Sunday morning at the Baptist church. Early in the service, the pastor asked everybody to stand and greet one another. Mrs. Irby started to head out the door. The Baptists asked her where she was going, and she said, “In my church, when you stand, it’s time to go.” They helped her back to her pew to stay for the rest of the service. The pastor began to preach, and Mrs. Irby shouted loudly to the young lady beside her, “When is he ever gonna quit?” The congregation chuckled, and the pastor wrapped up his sermon quickly. Mrs. Irby stood to go. As she greeted the pastor at the door, she said, “The only reason I came here today is that the Methodists didn’t have church because their pipes busted. But I didn’t get a thing out of your sermon. Next time I’ll have to remember to bring my hearing aids.” And with that, she was out the door, never to return.

Which reminds me: you only get out of church what you put into it. The psalmist says, “Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise!” (Psalm 100:2, 4, ESV). Come to church with a prayer in your heart, a smile on your face, a Bible in your hand, and if you need them, glasses on your eyes and hearing aids in your ears, so that you don’t miss what God wants to say to you.

About Bob Rogers

Hospital chaplain in Mississippi. Adjunct history professor (online). Formerly a pastor for 33 years in Mississippi and Georgia. Avid cyclist.

Posted on January 31, 2012, in Holy Humor and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. I feel like I have met a few Mrs. Irbys before in my years of ministry. Great post.

  2. Suzan Irby Freibert

    I have to let you know that I came across this article by mistake when researching a story that I am writing, and the Mrs. Irby in you story here is my Grandmother, Mrs. Lucille Dean Irby; we called her Mama Ceile. I have to say, it sounds just like her. I remember when she attended my wedding in 1984 in Jackson, MS, I did not receive Communion because I wasn’t Catholic. Mama Ceile (Mrs. Irby) said, very loudly since she was so deaf, “Why isn’t Suzan drinking any wine?” It was so loud that everyone heard. At the time I was so embarrassed, but looking back, it was just who she was. The story here may not have shown her in the best light, and used her as an example, but she was such a wonderful woman and I miss her so much. Thank you for this wonderful story. It was such a TREASURE to come across. Mama Ceile passed away in Sardis MS and lived to be 99 years old.

    Thank you so much for this story,
    Suzan (Irby) Freibert
    Tucson, Arizona

  3. Suzan, thanks, and I hope you weren’t offended by the story. I repeated the story exactly as it was told to me by the pastor who was in Sardis. I think most people would understand from the story that Mrs. Irby had a good heart, since she came to welcome the pastor to town, even if her car tires threw rocks on him and her lack of hearing aids caused a chuckle in the church. The pastor who told me the story thought it was hilarious. She certainly made a memory for him, as I know she made many memories for you.

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