You would think, as an elected judge in a small county, I would naturally fall into, or at least be considered for a place of leadership at the place where my family worships.
Apparently, however, my history of throwing sinners in the penitentiary, putting a legal stamp of approval on marital break-ups and sharing an occasional beer with my constituents makes me somehow unfit to serve as an example of church values.
Instead, the preacher assigned me to serve as a front door greeter at my little Baptist church. From an appearance standpoint, I am near perfect for that duty. At 5’6”, middle-aged and looking like a cross between Dennis the Menace and Alfred E. Neuman, I am non-threatening to visitors, children and old people.
Most Sundays, my job as a greeter consists of handing out that Sunday’s Order of Service, shaking hands, directing folks to the nursery, opening/shutting sanctuary doors and counting attendees. A couple of Sundays ago, our church was doing the Lord’s Supper and, for what I am sure were Biblically legitimate reasons (cough), half the deacons were not in attendance. Six guys are needed to pass out the bread and grape juice to the congregation and since they were one short, I was recruited to help. I must say, I did a damn…I mean, darn good job. No juice was spilled on my watch and I limited child and old person touches to a minimum. After throwing back my own shot glass of juice, I returned to the seat next to my adoring wife, sure that the admiring eyes of the congregation followed my every manly step.
After a few other church service items were taken care of, it was time to pass the offering plate. Once again, I was asked to help. Glad to. I strutted down the aisle and took my place with the other men in front of the podium. It was then that we realized that there were too many of us. Someone had to go. With the church membership watching, the eyes of the other gathered plate passers turned to me. I didn’t budge. After all, I was standing at the wrong end of the line and it would be embarrassing as hell…I mean, heck, to go back to my seat at that moment. Silence…then the preacher smiled, stared me down and with a half smirk, gave a slight nod toward my seat. I had been fired. Let go. Terminated. Sacked from my job as a plate passer.
I think I was selected for elimination because of prejudice. Of the guys standing up front with me, I was the shortest by a good half foot. Maybe it was my hair or lack thereof. One dude was clean shaven bald but the others sported full heads of hair. My barber charitably describes my mane as “getting a little thin”. Maybe it was my appearance. Starting from the other end, the attire was suit, suit, suit, nice slacks with a blazer, starched jeans with cowboy shirt with a bolo tie…and then me. Tie loosened, hair mussed, shoes in bad need polishing and wrinkled Dockers worn a couple dozen times too many. Clearly, my preacher is prejudiced against short, balding, poorly dressed guys that strut.
I stepped out of line and meekly made my way (slunk) to my seat with the eyes of 132 near-snickering fellow brothers-and-sisters wondering how I had tricked my wife into marrying me and worrying about the state of the judiciary. I tried to maintain a brave face but the level of humiliation was enormous. I sat down and my not-so-proud wife scooched away from me. Little children were pointing. The folks behind me were whispering and I heard words like “sap” and “loser”. I stayed almost to the end of the service then faked a coughing fit so I could leave a bit early and avoid facing the masses and their end-of-church pitying looks.
Somewhere in one of those Corinthians parts of the Bible, it says (and I am paraphrasing a little) that everybody in a church needs to do their bit for the cause. Therefore, I will return to my assigned post. Nobody can open doors and count people like me. (FYI non-Baptists, knowing the exact number of folks in attendance each Sabbath is thought to be vital to the very existence of a Baptist church.) Besides, people need to feel better about themselves after they attend religious services. That’s another thing I do. One look at me and people automatically feel better about their lot in life. I’m important. The Bible tells me so.