“A Lesson From A Haircut”

May 13, 2015

Jay Snyder, 96 year old barber
Jay Snyder, a 96 year old Mount Joy barber, dispensing warm shaving cream to trim Stephen’s neck.
“A Lesson From A Haircut”

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“Paul, having remained many days longer, took leave of the brethren and put out to sea for Syria, and with him were Priscilla and Aquila. In Cenchrea he had his hair cut, for he was keeping a vow” (Acts 18:18). “Make vows to the Lord your God and fulfill them” (Psalm 76:11).

Brooksyne has cut my hair since we began dating our freshman year in college over 40 years ago. Based upon what expensive haircuts cost I figure she has saved us hundreds of thousands of dollars since her hair cuts are every bit as good as what the rich and famous get! John Edwards, a vice presidential nominee in 2004 famously got $400 haircuts from a Beverly Hills stylist. *

Jay Snyder, 96 year old barberHowever we both went to a special barber in Mount Joy the other day initially just to meet a man we had read about in our paper. But when we visited his shop I decided to get a haircut. Jay Snyder opened his barber shop on December 13, 1947 and has been barbering ever since. That’s over 67 years and he’s now 96 years old! The tiny one chair shop is essentially the same as when he started although he did install a window air conditioner at some point.

Barber thermometerWith Brooksyne looking on Jay cut my hair, mostly running a trimmer over and over and over in the same place on the back of my neck. He also used a straight edge around my ears which was a bit disconcerting. I considered Malchus.

We conversed as he clipped and he was mentally as sharp as a tack and a delightful storyteller. He told us how he had fought in the Battle of the Bulge in WW2 and was among the first liberators of the concentration camps. He shared details of the opening of his shop and some romantic stories. I think he liked to talk so much he would have kept me in the chair trimming my neck all day. Finally I said to him, “I think this will be fine” as I extricated myself from the chair and paid my $10.00 (plus tip) barbering bill. The experience was certainly worth that!

Now ideally preachers (or writers) begin their study for a message with a text and then search for an illustration. That is certainly the preferred method. But sometimes it’s the other way around. In today’s case we have a haircutting illustration and I went searching for a text! The positive aspect to this is it may cause me to give consideration to a text I would otherwise not.

If we were to ask Bible students what the most famous (or infamous) haircut in the Bible was most Bible readers would immediately think of Samson.  His haircut by Delilah sure had a detrimental effect on his life and others!

But today let us consider another Biblical haircut in a verse that we may tend to skim over. “In Cenchrea he had his hair cut, for he was keeping a vow.”

“In Cenchrea he had his hair cut.” Paul was in Corinth at this time but was departing for Syria. But before he left he had his hair cut in Cenchrea, a port in Corinth. Now I often get a haircut before I take a trip but there was a specific reason for this haircut, “for he was keeping a vow.”

Today the most common use of vows is that in marriage. Our marriage vows are essentially solemn promises we make to our spouse. But a vow is also a solemn promise made to God.

I studied numerous commentaries on this verse. Some commentaries such as the IVP believe he had earlier taken the Nazarite vow as taught in Numbers 6. “Paul cuts his hair, signaling the beginning of the end of a Nazarite vow. Evidently he had begun this vow after either the Macedonian or Corinthian vision, as a sign of earnest beseeching of the Lord for success in the mission to which Paul had been called (Acts 16:9-10; 18:9-10). Now in thanksgiving Paul ends the vow and thus recognizes that the Lord made good on His promises. In our life of faith we too may be confident that what God calls us to do He will enable us to complete (Philippians 1:6).

Other see this as a private, personal vow made for unspecified reasons. A private vow was often assumed by the Jews in consequence of some mercy received or of some deliverance from danger.

Vows to God are frequently mentioned in the Bible. The first was made by Jacob in Genesis 28:19-21.  An entire chapter on the law of vows is found in Numbers 30.

But the Psalms have some of the richest devotional material on vows including our second daily text. “Make vows to the Lord your God and fulfill them” (Psalm 76:11).

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man Daily prayer: Father we read in Scripture of the importance of keeping our word, that we are not to make a promise we are unwilling to keep. There were dire consequences for the Israelites who made and broke vows, most especially vows made to You, Father. Millions upon millions of lives have been shattered due to broken promises. Help us to count the cost before we commit to a promise. Though circumstances may make it very difficult to keep our promise show us a way that we can follow through. If it is an impossibility grant us guidance in how we handle the matter with integrity, humility, and repentance seeking to keep peace and doing what is within our power to correct the situation. Above all, we thank You that You keep every promise You make. You are like a shield to all who seek Your protection. Amen.

See Proverbs 30:5

A visit to Jay Snyder’s Barber Shop

Jay Snyder barber shop, 96 year old barber
The old-fashioned waiting area, sort of like Floyd’s Barber Shop on Andy Griffith. Jay’s shop is on West Main Street, Mount Joy, PA

Jay Snyder barber shop, 96 year old barber
Brooksyne doesn’t normally take photos of me getting my hair cut since she’s usually behind the trimmer! Jay enjoyed our picture taking session.

Jay Snyder barber shop, 96 year old barber
This is what he did most of the time.

Jay Snyder barber shop, 96 year old barber
Notice the swivel chair attached to the client chair. However he stood the entire time he cut my hair. I asked when he was going to retire and he told me, “What would I do, just sit around and watch TV all day?”

Jay Snyder, 96 year old barber
As you can see Jay did a nice trim on one lower side. He must have tired out before he got to the back section, crown and front though Stephen was a customer for a good 40 minutes or so. I will give Jay 5 stars for his ability to hold clippers with a steady hand, stand on his feet for over an hour (he had a customer before we arrived), and for his record long, enduring work-ethic. Truly amazing!!

1949 calendar Jay Snyder barber shop, 96 year old barber
Some people just can’t remember to change their calendars! Notice his warranty: “If our work is not satisfactory, we refund your whiskers.”

One new thing: When we left he offered us both a nifty new pen that had an LED flashlight on the end, certainly not something from 1947. Interesting that at 96 he still goes to the trouble and expense of ordering marketing materials!
Here’s the newspaper article about Jay Snyder, 96 year old Mount Joy Barber.


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“Anything That Costs Me Nothing”  Video   Bobby Michaels

“The Vow – Staying Faithful”  Video   Geoff Moore


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