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KEEPING THE FAITH | Sir Winston takes over the column this week

I became a permanent part of the Macklin household after showing up on their porch during the height of the pandemic. I got the royal treatment: belly rubs and lots of attention.
Sir Winston Macklin Column10252021
The Rev. Lewis Macklin and Sir Winston, the Duke of Macklin Manor

EDITOR’S NOTE: Today’s collection of thoughts is offered by Sir Winston, the Duke of Macklin Manor who is filling in for the Rev. Lewis Macklin who is away on vacation. 

I am actually glad for the opportunity to vent! I became a permanent part of the Macklin household after showing up on their porch during the height of the pandemic. I walked into a great setup, especially since they were working from home. 

I got the royal treatment: belly rubs and lots of attention. Clearly, they recognize royalty breeding!

Apparently, I was not the first canine to do this as they talked about London, a German Shepherd and Mocha a pit bull. What was different this time? They were not familiar with the assertive nature of an alpha male Jack Russell Terrier. Some may think I am demanding. Actually, I am simply articulating my preferences. This is where things become challenging!

I really appreciated the comfy chair in the Reverend's "man cave" and rightly believe I should have access at all times. The episodes of getting put out of the chair were becoming fast and furious. 

They actually purchased two dog beds for me however they are hardly comparable to the comfy chair. After all, I am a duke!  Well, we have come to terms about sharing the reclining furniture. When the Reverend is away, like this week, the chair is all mine! When the Reverend comes home, he is welcome to join me. 

There have been a few hiccups along the way, such as having to get bailed out of puppy prison after the dog warden picked me up in my yard thinking I was a stray. 

I love car rides with my head out the window. However, one time the family misled me. I thought they were taking me to the veterans center to be "vetted" as a support dog. Instead, they took me to the vet to get fixed! Not cool!

But there have been some benefits, such as the recent gourmet treats provided by Attorney Mark Finamore! I actually have been thinking about retaining him for legal counsel — just in case, especially if they pull another vet visit like that again! Many of the Macklin family’s friends have embraced me and I have a pretty good thing. In fact, things have been going pretty smooth until a few weeks ago. 

You see, the recent arrival of the Little Prince in the home has required some adjustments. Prior to him, I pretty much had this family wrapped around my paws. Admittedly, jealousy was an ugly emotion that was consuming me. However, they have convinced me that we all can get along. There have been a few bumps along the way. They were a little irritated that I found the kid’s pacifier very comforting. I was troubled they chose to pitch a perfectly good binky into the trash after I sampled it. I am OK with sharing but they behaved as if I had the cooties!

They also did not seem to appreciate me sitting in the Little Prince's carriage. To be very honest, it was not as comfortable as my chair. I just wanted to see what the fuss was about the baby throne, that’s all.

I have been getting acclimated to the East Middle School which recently opened in our neighborhood. The Reverend suggested I consider being a mascot. Absolutely not! I will leave that suitable role for the golden bear. However, I am open to being a goodwill ambassador. A fur influencer of my stature has to be image-conscious. 

I have found it interesting to observe the Reverend as he prepares his messages. Usually, a few days prior to delivery of the message, he does a final edit and reads it aloud. He times the run-through because he tries to limit his message to no more than 20 minutes. 

I am assuming he does not want a reenactment of the incident recorded in the Book of Acts 20:9-12, “As Paul spoke on and on, a young man named Eutychus, sitting on the windowsill, became very drowsy. Finally, he fell sound asleep and dropped three stories to his death below!” 

That makes me wonder if Eutychus had sleep apnea, narcolepsy or something. It was encouraging that Paul went down, bent over him, and took him into his arms. “Don’t worry,” Paul said, “he’s alive!” 

Then they all went back upstairs, shared in the Lord’s Supper and ate together. Paul continued talking to them until dawn, and then he left. Meanwhile, the young man was taken home alive and well, and everyone was greatly relieved. All due respect Apostle Paul, that’s a lot of preaching! 

I noticed the phrase "red flags" has been trending on social media, meant for humor, implying one should be watchful and cautious. The term is often used in dating, where people may find personality traits or preferences in a partner to be red flags, suggesting their relationship could experience some challenges with compatibility.

Although I am color blind, I can recognize the red flags if a sermon is going to be too long.  Some of the red flag signs are pretty telltale such as:

• The preacher announces at the beginning as a disclaimer, “I won’t keep you very long!”
• Instead of bottled water in the pulpit there is coffee Keurig!
• The youth group is selling Red Bull as a fundraiser.
• The preacher announces for the SIXTH time,  “As I come to a close…”
• Grub Hub and Door Dash are running a church special.
• The preacher removes his watch but never looks at it.
• The message’s manuscript is thicker than a telephone book.
• The bulletins have pizza delivery menus 

However, let's be clear, if the length of the message is measured in dog years, then you should bring lots of snacks! Just trust me on this!

Canine Care 

I would like to suggest you support and utilize the ministry of care for canines provided by Buster's Brigade. Perhaps you know a family that needs assistance providing for the medical needs of their companion or the canine needs to be rehomed. The Brigade has remained committed to the cause even in the midst of the pandemic

Remembering Father Timothy H. O’Neill

Our family was saddened to hear of the passing of Father Timothy H. O’Neill. The recent transitioning of yet another iconic faith leader in our community has been impactful. Father O’Neill was a kind and thoughtful Man of God. Proud of his Irish roots and Catholic faith, I share an Irish blessing in his memory and those impacted by this great loss. 

May the blessings of light be upon you,
Light without and light within.
And in all your comings and goings,
May you ever have a kindly greeting
From them you meet on the road. 

He was a respected educator and beloved community pastor. Father Tim served at St. Patrick Church in Hubbard from 1992 to 2015. He was a founding member, along with Pastor Macklin, of Mahoning County’s 317 Board which provided services for addressing chemical dependency.

A prayer for animals

In the spirit of Saint Francis of Assisi, we offer this prayer for all pets. Blessed are You, Lord God, Maker of all living creatures. You called forth fish in the sea, birds in the air and animals on the land. We ask you to bless these pets and those who are for them. By the power of Your love, enable these beloved creatures to live according to Your plan and continue to always keep the faith. Amen 

The Rev. Lewis W. Macklin II serves as the lead pastor of Holy Trinity Missionary Baptist Church, chaplain for the Youngstown Police Department, president of the Baptist Pastors Council and the local coordinator for the African American Male Wellness Walk of the Mahoning Valley. He resides in Youngstown with Dorothy, his partner in marriage and ministry. They share the love and joy of six children and eight grandchildren and their mischievous canine, Sir Winston.

— All biblical citations are New Living Translation unless noted otherwise.

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