It was a different night at Ms. Parson's Soup Kitchen. For one thing there was no soup. Those who had shouldered responsibility to keeping the kitchen running after her death nodded to the high nineties temperatures and settled on sandwiches, cold slaw, and other cold cut fixings. On such a warm summer afternoon and evening not as many folks stopped by. But it was a good time, a time when the real servants of the church could sit and talk with each other, to catch up on concerns and, to be honest, to gossip just a bit.
Florence was there. Florence always came to the Soup Kitchen. It was her haven away from the world, a place where she was treated with respect, and where she could usually depend on one of the folks to slip her a ten or twenty. This night Florence let it be known she needed some cat food and milk. The parson asked her exactly what she wanted. She reached in her pocket and produced a list, obviously prepared in advance in the sure knowledge one of the church members, if not the parson, would eventually give in.
The parson headed out of the Fellowship Hall, list in hand, and crossed the street to the store where he did Florence's shopping. Returning to the church, the parson started down the center aisle of the sanctuary to cut through the chancel and back to the Fellowship Hall. Something seemed wrong.
The parson stopped. He looked around. At first he didn't see it, but after a few turns to survey the sanctuary he saw the glass. The door to the room behind the sanctuary was open. The shattered stained glass lay all across the carpet. The large rock was just under the circular table in the room.
Someone had stood outside the church and hurled the large rock through the protective storm window with such a force it then went through the stained glass behind it.
The parson went to the Fellowship Hall, gave Florence her milk and cat food, and then asked two of the trustees to join him. He showed them the damage. “Who would do such a thing?” was the question. “How bad is this?” was another. Soon it was determined that Ms. Parson's old supply of stain glass would provide the needed amount and color. And one of the church members knew how to install the glass. In another ten minutes the floor had been cleaned up. In another twenty a police report had been filed. And within an hour a temporary fix had been put in place.
That night, on his way home, the parson shook his head in consternation at the act of rage or pure vandalism or both. And then he smiled. Not one member of his church had expressed condemnation for the culprit, but all of them had expressed concern that such a thing was done. And several promised to put the person on their prayer list.
Satisfaction settled in on the parson. It's always good to serve a church where the folks practice what's preached.