I share the heart-breaking vision of Baptist friend and pastor Stephen Price, who knows that there will always be a shepherd.
When the pastor climbs into the pulpit
and looks out across the congregation
The words of Matthew come to mind:
“When Jesus saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”
One sports a black eye
put there the night before by her husband.
One struggled to remember the people around him
because he suffers with Alzheimer’s;
while his wife sitting next to him
Weeps inwardly at his pain.
A woman with cancer sits in the third pew
Just in front of a young man
who has not told his parents he is gay.
Three of the members of this congregation
have not eaten today
and will not eat tomorrow;
“Food insecure” just does not touch their situation;
it is too bland, too sterile, too deodorized.
It is a phrase designed to mask the moral stench
of a nation that could feed it’s people
but does not.
Hundreds of miles south
children sit in cages on the border.
Hundreds of miles north
children are being poisoned in Flint, Michigan.
Both with the nation’s knowledge
and Congress’s willingness to do nothing.
The pastor intones, “God is good all the time”
and inwardly screams, “What the hell are You doing to us? We are dying here”
While the congregation moans back with a smile, “All the time God is good.”
choking on their pain and tears.
The woman in the fifth row wonders how
she will pull herself out of the affair she’s in.
The man six people down
contemplates how he will commit suicide tonight.
The pastor opens the Bible and reads,
“Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands
“Come before His presence with singing
“Enter into His gates with thanksgiving
“And into His courts with praise.”
Swing and a miss.
Give us the courage O God
to scream our agony
from pulpit and pew
before we wander off like hungry sheep,
stumble into the poisoned grasses of this world