The parson sat almost in the back of the room, not all the way to the back, but nowhere near the front. He really didn’t want to be at the meeting. But he came, anyway, to show respect. Fortunately, there was not another clergy person sharing his pew. He put his smart phone on mute, just to be on the safe side should some hard rock music video start playing, and accessed the Huffington Post.
The parson was a veteran of a half century of clergy meetings. He’d developed a knack of being able to work on one thing while giving token attention to the meeting in the unlikely event his name was called.
His name wasn’t called. But his attention was diverted from the smart phone to the meeting when the church superior said, “We do not want anyone making any political statements from the pulpit.” Church superior elaborated on the statement. The gathered brothers and sisters of the cloth all, for the most part, nodded. The parson looked around and wondered if the nods were and expression of agreement or were an acknowledgement of “Yes, we heard you.”
As soon as the meeting was over the parson headed to the car, jumped in and headed to his favorite diner. He plopped in his regular booth, off to the left and in the back. Deborah, the 3:00 to 11:00 server, came up, without asking the parson what he wanted, and placed a cup of decaf in front of him.
“Thanks, Deb,” the parson said.
“No, problem, Parson,” she replied. “Let me know when you need a refill.”
The parson pulled a legal pad from his carry case. He turned the smart phone on and accessed the scripture for the coming Sunday. He began making notes for the sermon the coming Sunday.
As he was still making notes while on his second cup of decaf, a voice interrupted. “Parson, how are things? I didn’t get to speak to you at the meeting. You must have slipped out as quick as you could.”
“Guilty,” said the parson to the church superior. “Have a seat. Can I order you anything.” Church superior slipped into the booth across from the parson and said he’d have a cup of coffee also. The parson made a motion to Deborah who came and took church superior’s order. “How are Vivian and the girls?” the parson asked.
“They are doing really well, Parson. Thanks for asking.”
“Sarah is in college now?” the parson inquired.
“She is,” said church superior. They talked about niceties for a while. “What did you think of the meeting?” asked church superior.
“It was a meeting,” the parson replied.
“Seriously,” said church superior. “I saw your ears pop up when I started talking about not making political statements. What got your goat?”
“Well,” said the parson, “for some reason I started thinking about all kinds of gospel stories. You know that story about a certain man traveling from Jericho who fell the victim of thieves?” Before church superior could acknowledge the parson continued. “Remember how the Levite and the Priest passed by on the other side? And then the Samaritan rendered the victim aid, the Samaritan who was an immigrant, maybe traveling down that road on a work permit, the Samaritan who was despised, the Samaritan who was - well you know how Samaritans are, they’re all the same. Well, when you read that story in the pulpit or preach on it you’re making a political statement.”
“Remember Mary Magdalene and how she had such a prominent place among the disciples. That was a political statement.”
“Remember Jesus healing on the Sabbath?”
“Remember Jesus kicking the butts of the money changers in the Temple courtyard?”
“All of those are political statements.”
The parson paused and took a sip of the decaf. He looked at church superior and then downed the rest of the coffee. “You know,” the parson said, “if you don’t want me to make a political statement you need to go get a copy of the Revised Standard Lectionary and go through it reading by reading. Then email me a list of the scriptures I can use that do not make a political statement.”