Murphy Comes to Church – by Cam Peckinpaugh

Murphy Comes to Church

Several weeks ago, the Rev. Dr. John Burton led our service in the absence of our regular minister. John was accompanied by his canine pal “Murphy”, an exuberant 14 -month old pup standing 3 feet tall, who happily welcomed folks as they came up the stairs into church.

After Murphy’s impromptu “Meet and Greet” session, John tried to settle Murphy into the Minister’s Study in preparation for the start of the service.  Murphy, on the other hand, was not pleased with this arrangement and set about letting his master know in no uncertain terms that he was not going to take this lying down!  He barked and carried on for quite awhile.  Soon, a member of the congregation offered to help settle Murphy.  John quickly accepted the offer of help and Murphy and his ‘sitter’ returned to their pew. Murphy happily responded in a positive manner to the basic words of “Good Dog,” followed up with lots of loving pats and scratches behind the ears.  It looked like he was going to settle in quite nicely.

The service began, but when John’s voice came over the P.A. system Murphy began to get rather restless, emitting the occasional whine to remind John of his presence.  For the most part however he was content to be lavished with his “sitter’s” attention and by the end of the sermon was actually resting quietly with his head between his front paws and his back legs stretched out in a lazy sprawl.

It was after the sermon that things started to get a little hectic, when the congregation began singing the Hymn entitled “Walk With Me.”  When a dog (who has been asked to sit quietly for quite some time) hears the word “Walk” he has a tendency to answer the invitation with enthusiasm and Murphy was no exception. It was all his sitter could do to convince Murphy that now was not the time to take a literal walk but rather a spiritual walk.  Unfortunately, the hymn’s refrain contains the words “Walk with me, I will walk with you …” and is repeated five times in the course of the hymn!! Murphy was more than perplexed by the many invitations to walk, but not being given the opportunity to do so, but finally settled down again when the singing ended.

The Prayers of the People followed, and John began the prayer with the words “Dear God.”  Now in Murphy’s mind this must have sounded like “Here Dog” because he quickly leapt up and uttered one single loud “woof,” in response to his master’s call!  We, of course, could appreciate his misunderstanding and after we had all stopped laughing, John re-started with “Dear God” and once again Murphy answered the call with a resounding “woof, woof!”  This time, the congregation didn’t even pretend to be in control of their laughter.  They howled and Murphy didn’t say a word! The service ended shortly after, with no further input from Murphy.

Upon reflection, perhaps we can say that John’s “Murphy” certainly illustrates a definition of Murphy’s Law that reads “If everything seems to be going well, you have obviously overlooked something,” and that would be that some things get lost in translation between the English language and a Dog’s interpretation of it!

Thanks to dog sitter Heather Frank for this story.