“Jesus counts upon you,
To spread the gospel news.
So, walk it, and talk it,
Live it, and give it,
Teach it, and preach it,
Know it, and show it,
A sermon in shoes.”
Six year old Meagan stood in front of the church, her toothless grin lighting up the first four rows of the sanctuary. While others in the children’s choir mumbled most of the words, Meagan’s impeccable memory enabled her to sing every word of the final verse of “A Sermon in Shoes.” Fully aware that she was the only one who knew the entire song, Meagan made sure to sing loud enough for the angels on the stained glassed windows in the back of the church to hear.
After the service, Meagan and her parents left immediately to claim “their” booth at Denny’s. Meagan swung her shiny black “church” shoes back and forth, waiting for Daddy to say something about her performance; but all he did was grumble about the sermon.
“Did you like my song today, Daddy?”
“Huh? Oh yeah, you did real good. Now, put down those crayons and decide what you want to eat. ”
Meagan stopped coloring the daisies on her children’s menu, used her yellow crayon to circle the picture of pancakes, and slid the paper toward her mother.
“She’ll have pancakes, Herb.”
Meagan went back to her daisies. “That’s my favorite song, ‘cause I’m the best at it.”
“It’s a lovely song, darling, and Mommy’s very proud of you for remembering all those words.”
“I think it’s kind of a silly song. How can people be a sermon in shoes?” Meagan traded her yellow crayon for a pink one, and meticulously began outlining tulips.
“Well, honey, it means we’re supposed to show people Jesus through us. Understand?”
Meagan wrinkled her forehead, pursed her lips, and stared questioningly at her mother. How can I show people Jesus when Jesus isn’t here? And what does that have to do with sermons and shoes?
Before she could vocalize her questions, Meagan’s thoughts were interrupted by her father’s booming voice. “Where is that waitress? If she isn’t here in two minutes, we’re leaving. And it won’t be quietly. I’m timing it, Dot, and I mean it.”
Shrinking into the vinyl seat, Meagan held her breath as her wide eyes moved from her father to her mother. She let her breath out slowly when Becky, their usual waitress, appeared at the table. After ordering, Meagan’s father informed Becky that he fully expected their food wouldn’t take as long to get to them as she had.
When Becky walked away, Meagan asked her mother to explain again about the sermon in shoes.
“Okay, let’s try this. Instead of preaching about Jesus, we’re supposed to live like Jesus wants us to live. Then other people can see Jesus in us. Isn’t that right, Herb?”
Meagan’s father, who had been looking behind him to where the waitresses come and go from the kitchen, turned around at the sound of his name. “Sure. Now quit buggin’ your mother, Meagan.”
Meagan knew that Daddy didn’t like to talk about Jesus much, so she went back to finishing the bouquet of daisies and tulips. But rather than focusing on coloring leaves, Meagan kept thinking about the words from the song.
As she finished the final leaf and sat the green crayon on the table, Becky arrived with Meagan’s smiley face pancake. While her mother poured syrup on her pancake, Meagan decided to ask one more question.
“But the song says ‘teach it and preach it,’ and it says to ‘talk it,’ too.”
“We just don’t do it that way. That’s only a song. Our church doesn’t talk about it -- we leave that to the Evangelical Christians.”
“Oooh, they sound like angels. Are they angels, mommy?”
“Why would you think that?”
“Because you said ‘angelical,’ like we sing at Christmas. So are angels the only ones who get to talk about Jesus?”
Meagan jumped as her father slammed his juice glass on the table.
“Meagan, I’ve had enough. I said to quit buggin’ your mother. No, they’re not angels; they’re holy rollers – always butting into everyone’s business. Now, stop talkin’ about religion and start eating. We need to get out of here before those Calvary folks come with their ‘Praise Gods’ and prayin’ out loud. People need to just keep Jesus at church.”
I guess I better not ask what it means to know it and show it.
“Sermon In Shoes” was written by Ruth Harms Calkin
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