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TITLE: Don't You Recognize him?
By lauren finchum

The rain pelted the sidewalk as he walked into the church. He smiled at all the people, men in their suits and the woman in their suit dresses.
Some of the good-natured ones smiles back or nodded a greeting, and the man smiled at their friendly faces.

Yet others stared at him. Some looked in disgust at the man’s clothes, stubbly beard and tousled light brown tresses that glimmered a subtle red tone under the foyer’s skylight. Others turned their noses up and jeans—even though they weren’t even baggy, just boot-cut—and his white long sleeve tee and the short sleeve purple tee he had layered over it, which had a picture of a golden lion on it. Still others stared at his thong flip-flops as they clapped on the carpet of the sanctuary isle.

In the dimmed sanctuary light, the man looked for a seat to listen to the Sunday Night service. But when he went to sit down in the front pew, an usher looked at him and said very sharply, “This is reserved for the pastoral staff. They need to sit here, they have a lot to do.”
The man said nothing, just picked up his satchel and walk to the middle pews. As he did even more people sneered at the smack of his sandals, and some other showed disapproval to his “weird” sash that was tided around his waste. Some of the more studious of the conjuration saw that his sash was a prayer shawl from the Jewish culture that he’s tided around the waist of his jeans. But instead of welcoming him, they just whispered, “Shouldn’t he have been in a synagogue YESTERDAY.” Like he wasn’t one of them.

The man heard them, but still went to take a seat in the middle pew.
“Hey, hey! Excuse me, that’s OUR pew.” A very unpleased voice snapped.
The man turned to see a very unhappy soccer mom and her family. The man’s lips formed a saddened line as he step back and let them sit there.
When he left to find another place to sit, he heard the snip of white haired woman who looked like she just bit a sour lemon, “I don’t like the looks of him, he looks scruffy.”
Her husband nodded, “I always though facial hair looked ignorant, and there's no sense in letting your hair grow like that—not Godly.”
The man shook his head in a combo of sadness, disappointment, and a little anger at the piety.

The Jewish man finally ended up in the last pew all the way in the back. He sat down next to a Latino man dressed similar to him, except he only had on one tee and his clothes where looser—and he had no sash.
“This is my first time here, my name’s Jorge.” The Hispanic man held out his hand.
“Nice to meet you, Jorge.” The man smiled, and shook his hand.
Jorge saw the gold Star of David around the man’s neck, and then noticed the shawl around his thin waist, “Hey, man, you Jewish?”
The man smiled and nodded.
“Cool.” Jorge said genuinely.
Before they could talk more the pastor started the sermon. He quoted text from a Psalm of David, then interpreted it in the way that fit his sermon.
Jorge’s brow furrowed at the interpretation—it didn’t make much sense. But he shrugged and figured the pastor must be right.
“That’s not the right interpretation.” The Jewish man spoke up.
Every head turned in either shock or disgust—or both—to the Jewish man in the back. The pastor ignored him, and continued.
“I said that’s not right.” The man said again.
Jorge’s eyes widen at the man, but then he smiled. Someone with guts to say when someone was making their own rules—don’t find that much in churches anymore.
“Pardon me, sir, but I think I might know what I’m talking about.” The pastor said; his pride wounded.
“I’m sorry, but you don’t—you’re entirely wrong.” The man said confidently.
The people in front of the man tuned around, “Our pastor has a Ph.D.—did you go to college?”
“No.” the man said simply.
“Well, then he must know more than you.”
The man said, “No, he doesn’t know more than me. The children are wiser then he is.”
The churchgoers got riled, and an usher finally told the man the pastor wanted him to leave.

The man didn’t wait for them, but got up with his satchel and left the sanctuary, but he waited outside for Jorge.
“Would you like to learn what the Psalm really meant?” he asked Jorge as he came out from the church.
“Yes, I would.” Jorge said.
“Would you like to talk over dinner?”
“Yes, where do you want to go?”
“Anywhere you want to go.”
“Well, I have at home steaks I was gonna grill—I make a mean Verde sauce.”
The man laughed, “That’s sound’s great.”
“Are you still here?” a man’s angry voice made Jorge and the Jewish man turn.
“Who do you think you are?!” the angry man demanded.
The man looked into the old man’s face. The older man almost shrunk back at the stranger’s blue eyes that almost looked right through him—as if he could read his thoughts. But the old man was stubborn, and stood his ground, “I said who do you think you are?!”

At that moment a little girl pulled at the old man’s sleeve, “Grandpa, Grandpa, don’t recognize him? It’s Jesus!”
The stranger knelt down to look into the girl’s eyes. He smiled and winked, she smiled back.
He then stood and looked in the man’s confused eyes, “The pure in heart recognize me.” Then he turned and put his arm around Jorge’s shoulders and they walked to Jorge’s Dodge Ram, “Let’s get some of that Verde.”

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