I am named for him and he was a pastor too.
Actually, he was a pastor for as long as I can remember, but he wasn’t like other pastors you might have met. He played the ukulele and he was a ventriloquist. That’s an interesting combination, huh? Sometimes with the family, he would dress up in a long fake beard and tell stories about “Uncle Josh” that he remembered hearing on the radio when he was a kid. Oh, and one more thing, he collected Uncle Scrooge comics.
After he retired from full time ministry, he and Grandma moved next door to us. Whenever I brought him his daily mail after school, he would give me a piece of candy and ask, “What did you do today, Shorty?” I think he got tired of me saying, “noth’in” because soon he started handing me the candy while asking, “What did you do today, Shorty…noth’in?”
I didn’t know what to say.
He would always pray in King James English as a sign of respect for God and would also pray for a list of “older people” after dinner. Ironically, most of the “older people” were younger than him by a good 10 years. He lived to be 99 years old. In his later years when I visited his home, he would ask me to stick around and watch the Bill Gaither Homecoming on VHS. He would marvel at the joy everyone had on the screen as they sang those old songs together around the piano.
I want to be like my Grandpa Samuel.
So when we decided to do a project of original Christmas carol arrangements, I picked up my ukulele and worked on a version of “Joy to the World”.
You might know it already, or maybe not, but “Joy to the World” isn’t a Christmas song about Jesus’ birth. It’s actually about his second coming. You might know this already too, or maybe not, but that hasn’t happened yet.
I think we would have heard about that.
Anyway, the reason we sing it at Christmas isn’t just a church mistake. The church has understood for years that Jesus’ fulfillment of prophecy has multiple layers. The Jews waited through 400 years of silence for the Messiah they didn’t recognize and we are waiting over 2000 years for the Messiah that no one will miss. He died and rose again and so too we will die and rise again in Him. He came once as a baby and he will come again as King. We also know that when Jesus comes again, he will finish the work that he started the first time he was here in the flesh. And when he does, we will have new bodies. We will be reunited with all the believers who have fallen asleep in the Lord. People like my son Silas and my Grandpa Samuel.
So this Christmas, I play “Joy to the World” on the ukulele to remember Silas…and to remember Grandpa.
I think that’s something my Grandpa Samuel would do.