One of our local ministers, the Rev. Frederick Griffie, pastor of Harlan Presbyterian Church, experienced all three quite a few years ago in Paisley, Scotland.
These were the circumstances: A certain Reverend John Witherspoon had set off from Paisley Abbey before the "colonies" declared their independence from England. He settled himself in New Jersey where he proceeded to found a college which subsequently became Princeton University.
The selfsame reverend occupied a seat in the Continental Congress and was the only minister to sign the Declaration of Independence.
FAST FORWARD 200 YEARS. Paisley Abbey hosted a commemorative ceremony marking the bicentennial of the founding of Princeton. The highlight of the proceedings was the unveiling of a bronze plaque on the southwestern wall of the centuries old abbey. In the most durable of metals, Paisley's native son, Rev. Witherspoon, was lauded for his role in that historic event.
It just so happened that the Rev. Fred Griffie was pastor of a congregation in a Presbyterian church hardly more than a stone's throw from Paisley, in a quiet little suburb of Glasgow. He read about the upcoming celebration in a Glasgow newspaper and he went. Once there, he signed the guests' register.
Since he was a bona fide American Presbyterian minister, the committee of planners and participants quite naturally assumed he was an ecclesiastic emissary representing all of the Unites States.
To the Rev. Griffie's surprise, he was whisked to the front of the church and seated prominently amongst the dignitaries. After the formal preliminaries, the crowd was directed to the south wall where the commemorative bronze plaque, draped in an American flag, awaited its unveiling.
Here is where the three aforementioned sayings converge in the life of Harlan's Presbyterian minister. He was escorted to the wall where the plaque was hidden from view. Since he was the sole American cleric in attendance and assumed to be a United States VIP of sorts, naturally he was asked to pull the chord which removed the red, white and blue veiling, before a host of celebrants.
There, all those years ago, on that historic occasion, in the town of Paisley, Scotland, the Rev. Frederick Griffie was at the right place at the right time, where he had greatness thrust upon him as he enjoyed his 15 minutes of fame.
It is a charming story worth repeating. It amuses the local clergyman to this day, whenever he recalls the unsolicited attention surrounding the event.