• A man once went to his rabbi and confessed, “I have slandered my friend by lying about him and speaking evilly about him. What is to be my punishment?” The rabbi answered, “Go to the town square with a feather pillow. Cut open the feather pillow and let the feathers fly into the wind. Then come back to see me.” The man did as he was told, then returned to the rabbi and asked, “I have cut open the feather pillow and let the feathers fly into the wind. But how is that supposed to punish me?” The rabbi answered, “That is only the first — the easy — part of your punishment. Now you must go and collect all the feathers you let fly into the wind. Releasing feathers — and words — into the wind is easy; gathering them again is difficult.”
• Actor Pat O’Brien grew up in Milwaukee, where he remembered a Father Murphy. After one long day, Father Murphy was very tired, and he was faced with a long line of people who wished to go to Confession. He spoke out to the line: “All ye mortals stay, and all ye venials go home!” The church was empty within two minutes. (Mortal sins are much more serious than venial sins.)
• Susannah Cibber sang at the first performance of George Frideric Handel’s Messiahon April 23, 1742, in Dublin. Her emotion as she sang was overwhelming, and after she finished singing “He was Despised,” the chancellor of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Dr. Patrick Delany, shouted, “Woman, for this, be all thy sins forgiven.” (According to music historians, Ms. Cibber had quite a few sins to be forgiven for.)
• Church of Christ preacher Joe S. Warlick was debating a Baptist preacher in the days when there was a great deal of hostility between different groups that preached the word of God. The Baptist preacher called Mr. Warlick a “long-horned ox from Texas.” Mr. Warlick replied that in that case the congregation had sinned, because the Bible had orders not to yoke together an ox and an ass.
• A baptistry was added to a church, but the county building inspector said he couldn’t okay its installation unless it had a separate septic tank. When asked why a baptistry would need a separate septic tank, the building inspector replied, “It’s to prevent pollution in the ground.” One of the church trustees then said, “I guess it wouldpollute, with all those sins washed away!”
• Rabbi Gamaliel once told a servant, “Bring me something good.” The servant went to the marketplace, then returned with a tongue. Gamaliel then told the servant, “Bring me something bad.” The servant again went to the marketplace and returned with a tongue, then said to Gamaliel, “A tongue can be good or bad, depending on how it is used.”
• As a young man, Rabbi Yechiel Michel of Gustinin decided to learn to play chess. However, he immediately quit after learning that one of the rules of chess was that a move, once made, cannot be taken back. Rabbi Michel explained that such a rule went against Judaism, which believes that no act is final. After one commits a sin, one can repent.
• Rabbi Zushia of Hanipol never rebuked a sinner for sinning. Instead, when he saw a person commit a sin, he would sit near that person, then begin crying, “Zushia, how could you commit such a sin? Don’t you know that you will have to account for that sin in the World-to-Come?” The sinner always listened to Zushia nd eventually repented.
• The Maggid of Kelm repeated his sermons, giving the same few sermons over and over. Once, a sinner asked him, “Why do you keep repeating your sermons over and over?” The Maggid replied, “Why do you keep repeating your sins over and over?”
• Once the Hasidic master Israel of Rizhin was asked how to repent. Israel asked, “Did you know how to sin?” The sinner replied, “That was easy. First I sinned, then I knew what sin is.” So Israel told the sinner, “First repent, then you will know what repentance is.”
• A comedian was telling an off-color joke at an officers’ club when he suddenly noticed that sitting at the table was a chaplain. “For Christ’s sake,” he said. “Are you a chaplain?” The chaplain replied, “For the sake of Christ, I am.”
• Church of Christ preacher Raccoon John Smith spoke about Repentance for several Sundays in a row. When his congregation complained, Raccoon John replied, “When you doit, I’ll quit preaching on that and take up something else.”
• Calvin Coolidge attended church alone one Sunday. When he returned home, his wife asked him what the preacher had spoken about in his sermon. “Sin,” Coolidge replied. Next his wife asked, “What did he have to say about it?” Coolidge answered, “He was against it.”
• Abraham Lincoln was once seen with two crying children. When asked what was wrong, he answered, “The same thing that’s wrong with the world. I’ve got three walnuts, and each child wants two.”
• Martin Luther once got angry at a monk who was too perfect and yelled at him, “For heaven’s sake, why don’t you go out and sin a little? God deserves to have something to forgive you for!”
• Rabbi Simchah Bunim of Pshischa once asked how we can know that a sin is forgiven. His answer was that one knows that the sin has been forgiven when one no longer repeats it.
• “The word ‘good’ has many meanings. For example, if a man were to shoot his grandmother at a range of 500 yards, I should call him a good shot, but not necessarily a good man.” — G.K. Chesterton.
• “Jesus preached and talked against a whole gamut of sins. He never mentioned homosexuality at all.” — former President Jimmy Carter.
• “True fear of sin is fearing the sin itself more than its punishment.” — Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Vitebsk.
• “Don’t make me come down there.” — God.
• Sign outside a church: “Sin now. Pay later.”
Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved
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