I remember what she said as if it were yesterday.
“You know I’m certainly not one to gossip, but I did wonder why your Pastor was going into a bar on Saturday night.”
“Now, Aunt Minnie, I’m sure he had a mighty good reason.”
I was tired of her constant innuendos about what she called, clerical errors. She did not attend church, but she was determined to catch any and all members of the clergy in what she considered compromising situations so she could say, “See? They aren’t any better than anybody else.”
To shut her up I admitted I knew why he was there, and it was not to party, or whatever other scenario she had concocted.
“ Someone from his congregation called, panic stricken and about to fall off the alcoholic wagon. He was going to rescue his friend.” I did not tell her I was that person.
When I left for college I didn’t return to this town until I had been in a successful business and marriage and then lost both because of my own foolishness. Ten years later, I came back here for a fresh start.
As soon as I got off the bus that day I saw a man crumpled on the sidewalk, like so much trash. I noticed a rather large scar on his left arm. People were walking around him; some with a disgusted glance that he was in the way. One man stopped his car and got out to check on him. That man was Pastor Majors.
I remember hanging around to see how the whole thing went down. While the Good Samaritan checked the man for a pulse, he dialed 911 for assistance. It was beginning to rain so he took off his own jacket to shield the unconscious fellow. As I walked away, I saw his bumper sticker with the name of a church. It was a simple invitation to join them for a different kind of fellowship.
The name of that congregation seemed to blink off and on in my subconscious like a big neon sign. I couldn’t get what I had seen out of my mind: A complete stranger took the time to give aid and comfort to a dirty, funny-smelling, street person, and he did it with such kindness and concern. It was haunting.
John Majors shook my hand that first Sunday with genuine gladness to see me. We were about the same age. He said he remembered a guy by my name who had been a great athlete…something he had admired back then. I was ashamed to tell him how much I had messed up by getting in with the wrong crowd who thought it was cool to drink and smoke funny cigarettes and pop anything that looked like a pill, as long as it wasn’t a vitamin or something else good for you.
Pastor Major’s direct way of teaching was so enveloped in wisdom and integrity I found myself going back week after week. The day I was baptized I met a man full of good humor and reassurance. He was to assist me in a room in the back.
“Welcome to the fold, Brother. Stepping out to follow Jesus is the best thing that will ever happen to you. The next best thing, in my opinion, is having the privilege to hear a minister of the Gospel who absolutely walks the talk. He is a wonderful mentor and brother in Christ. I, for one, would be dead without him.”
The man said his name was Tom. As he reached for the white robe I was to wear, he swayed a little, as if about to faint. His face was pale and he was perspiring. I helped him to sit down. Pastor came in just in time to retrieve a special glucose paste from the pocket of Tom’s coat and get some into the shaking man’s mouth to counteract the insulin reaction.
“Did you eat something this morning, my friend?” Pastor showed great concern.
Tom barely whispered. “Apparently not enough.”
They seemed to understand each other with little dialogue.
After the service I was greeted and hugged by a line of loving folks who treated me like family. At the end was Tom. As he held out his hand, I noticed his left arm. There was a large ugly scar.
That afternoon I headed for Aunt Minnie’s. I had a lot to report to her before it was too late.
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