Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: At the Pulpit (11/15/07)
TITLE: Jeremiah's Dirty Girdle
By Debi Derrick
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Just having a mother who preached isn’t so odd, I suppose. The big difference was that Dad was a preacher, too. Only he was a staid and solid, suit-wearing, three points-and-a-poem Baptist pastor. It made for some lively and interesting family dynamics. Especially when Dad decided that women preachers were leather-lunged old heifers. I’m not too sure just how much of a joke he was making! It didn’t matter a whole lot to mother. While in her forties, she visited a little country, storefront church whose pastor, Sister Logan, was a dyed-in-the-wool Cajun who loved Jesus more than anything. When Sister Logan brought another woman preacher in for a special meeting, Mama visited and found herself yearning to experience the powerful anointing she felt.
“God, if it means I become a leather-lunged old heifer, then let it be!” She decided. And that was that. Of course, her being a preacher came in pretty handy from time to time. When Dad was stricken with a long-term illness prior to his death, there were times when the men in his young preacher’s class didn’t think they could fill in on such short notice. But Mama could. And she did modify her style a bit. You could almost call it “devotional teaching.”
But when it came to ladies’ retreats and the little country churches that would invite her to fill the pulpit, the fact is, Mama could preach circles around most anybody else.
Like a lot of preachers, Mama developed what could be called her signature sermon. “Jeremiah’s Dirty Girdle,” she called it, deferring to the tried and true King James Version.
Jeremiah’s Dirty Girdle was one of those messages that would raise the roof. I think it probably reflected a lot of mother’s personal faith. She started with Jeremiah 13:1. Well, with parts of it. You have to understand that when Mama preached, you were going to get about one-tenth of a sermon per word in a scripture. “Thus saith the Lord unto me….” “God spoke,” Mama said. “God speaks to all His children. The problem is with our hearing. When God spoke to Jesus at His baptism, others around him heard thunderclaps. But Jesus was tuned to the Father’s voice!"
“Go and get thee a linen girdle and put it upon thy loins, and put it not in water.” Jeremiah’s girdle, she said, was the style worn by the priests, while linen was a type of the righteousness of the saints. He was ordered to wear it without washing it. After he did that, God spoke a second time. “God didn’t speak to him a second time until he did what God told him to do the first time,” she proclaimed. So God had the prophet travel all the way to the Euphrates River and hide the sash in a rock for later retrieval. “Can you imagine what it looked like!” she said. “Water ruins linen!” she said, describing the mud and silt that washed in on it. The ruined sash showed how God’s faithless people had been ruined, too.
Jeremiah came to understand the prophecies the Lord gave him, Mama said. “It’s like when God told Hosea to marry a prostitute; it was so Hosea would understand God’s heart. If you want to minister to people, you have to know how God feels about things.”
She’s in her 80s, now. We’ve had some close calls lately, a few trips to the hospital. The fingers that once danced through the scriptures are swollen with arthritis.
I called her the other day to ask about Jeremiah’s Dirty Girdle. She chuckled. It was still in her Bible from the last time she preached to a women’s Bible study. I suspect it will turn out to be her last official preaching. But it’s not her last sermon. That’ll be living on in the lives of her friends and family long after she’s in heaven. That's where she’ll finally get to meet Jeremiah and ask him what he thought about that dirty girdle.
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