“Pastor Dave,” Emmit said with a solid shake of the head, a firm shake of the hand. His gravely voice and judicial look overshadowed the feast behind the both of them in the fellowship hall. Pastor Dave tried to dispel all thoughts of having to eat Clara’s famous chicken pie cold. Yet he knew with Emmit standing before him – with that look – he very well might just have to do that.
He forced a smile and tried not to look discouraged.
“What is it Emmit? What can I do for you?”
Emmit geared up. “About the sermon this morning.” He cleared some gravel from his throat, “the prostitute . . .”
A thrown football cut a path between where the two of them were talking.
“Excuse me for a moment, Pastor.”
A warning went out to Emmit’s ten-year old son Riley, the deliverer of the wayward pass. The retired judge then handed the football back with stern words that would’ve made a difference in any courtroom. Throwing a football indoors was something his son had been told more than once not to do. Fully chastised, the youth took the ball back and headed off.
Emmit returned with his concerns.
"Now back to the sermon,” he said.
“Yes, back to the sermon.”
Someone walked behind Pastor Dave with a plate of steaming hot rolls. Buttered, he could tell. Yet Emmit seemed not to be affected.
“Don’t you think it was a little harsh for Jesus to have told this woman to go and sin no more? I mean I’d sentence people like this everyday, put them in lock up, have them swear to me that they’d change their ways only to see them go right back to what they were doing. I’m not questioning Jesus’ motives, you understand, it’s just that he put a lot of pressure on the woman. Go and sin no more! Of course she’s going to do it again.”
Even in his Sunday best, Emmit looked like he was still wearing his robe, waving his gavel. Pastor Dave couldn’t have felt guiltier about praying for God to help him find a way to answer Emmit so that he could go eat. Yet Pastor Dave was only human and the cacophony of others partaking--the mere thought of others partaking when he was so hungry, it was an overwhelming distraction.
“Now I understand what you said about not wanting to sin anymore,” Emmit continued as if presenting evidence, “but there was no indication that this woman accepted Christ or even took on the Holy Spirit at the time Jesus prevented the stoning, or maybe I missed something. And even if she left after being filled with the Spirit, her sin nature could have easily won out again thus landing her back in the same position . . .”
All at once the football came flying past once more. This time, however, there was a crash as it hit something hard and broke it.
Three youths, one of which was Emmit’s son from a moment ago, stopped dead in their tracks.
“He did it,” the youth on Riley’s left said when faced with impending judgment.
“Yes,” the boy on the right confirmed. “uhhhhh . . . we told him not to.”
A stone faced Judge Emmit replied, “and I guess neither of you have ever done anything after you’ve been told not to. If this is true and you haven’t then please tell me how I should punish Riley. Otherwise, you can leave.”
Standing alone now, ten-year old Riley squirmed. He’d come to the alter just last month. Pastor Dave had never seen such a change in anyone in all his days.
Emmit took a deep breath. "Didn't I tell you not to throw the football indoors?"
“Yes Sir and I’m sorry, Dad.” Tears were actually visible in Riley's eyes now. “I don’t know what came over me. I just got caught up, I guess. Please forgive me.”
Judge Emmit looked like someone who’d just swallowed his gum. He cleared more gravel from his throat. “It’s all right, Son. I forgive you. Just—uh--just go now and – uh – don’t ever do it again.”
With the boy gone, Pastor Dave spoke.
“Do you think maybe you understand now”
Pastor Dave could almost hear the gavel rapping.
“Yes, I think I understand.”
Clara's chiken pie never tasted better.
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