This post is from Peggy Brown. She gets to the very heart of what this blog is all about and we are grateful to her for this.
The Parable of The Jesus Creeders
By Peggy Brown (4/25/08)
Down in County Blodgom, there is a quaint little town called Scotsville. While it?s pretty much like any other town in the county, it gets more traffic than the rest of ?em. And I?m tellin? you this story to explain why I think that is. It?s on account of the One T Saloon and the Jesus Creeders.
Scot ?One T? McKnight, and his bride Kris, moved into town some three years ago and built them, well, just about the finest saloon imaginable. There?s somethin? for just about everyone there: the best tastin?, smellin? and soundin? coffee around; an amazin? variety of cold brews to wet your whistle (with an equally amazin? selection of glasses and mugs and cups to drink ?em out of!); mouth-waterin?, home made victuals; and a couple of the biggest dang poker tables you?ve ever seen?with more chairs than you?d ever want to have to polish!
If folks are a-comin? into town, they?re headin? for the One T to see who?s at the tables swappin? tales and playin? cards?and hopin? there?s a conversation that catches their fancy. If not, well ? the food and drink still makes it worthwhile. Some folks just enjoy sittin? a spell in one of the rockers out on the big ole porch, listenin? through the windows to the stories bein? told. And, believe me, there are lots of amazin? stories. Scot McK humbly says: “I may own this here establishment, but all I do is suggest topics and ask questions and mostly let folks have their say.? (And if you believe that, well ? lucky for you, we don?t take advantage of strangers!) Anyway, time spent at the One T is almost always time well spent?as long as you don?t run afoul of the Sheriff?s Deputies.
Now, the Sheriff, he don?t actually show his face much in town, but he?s got Deputies just about everywhere. And he don?t have lots of laws to enforce, neither?just one: Love God and Love Others. The folks who live in Scotsville, and especially them as frequent the One T Saloon, work hard at helpin? each other get this one law right. McK calls this law The Jesus Creed, and he?s serious about runnin? him a peaceable, law-abidin? establishment. Folk have taken to callin? his ?regulars? the Jesus Creeders.
On any given day, at any given time, the saloon is full of town folk relaxin? from a hard day?s work. Some are havin? coffee and a bite to eat, while others are at the bar lookin? for somethin? to wash down the dust of the trail. The ones who frequent this town in their travels usually sit down to a friendly hand of poker — to hear what’s goin? on in the world as much as to play. They welcome strangers to play because, well, they?re a right friendly group — although they?ve been known to get mighty serious about the game — and the conversation. But, best of all, everyone?s welcome: experts and novices alike! You never know who you?re gonna learn more from?there?s lots of surprises to be had, for those willin? to listen.
Well, every once in a while, the swingin? doors get shoved open by someone who has heard of this group of chattin? card players — or is drawn in by the sounds heard from out in the street. They make their way over to one of the tables and pull up a chair (they?re big tables, remember, with lots of chairs around). Everyone’s busy lookin? at their cards and ponderin? how they’re gonna to play ?em (and there?s usually a fair number of side conversations runnin? all at the same time) — when the new arrival leans in and mutters: “Well, if this don?t look like a bunch of them players who make up their own rules and take advantage of strangers — as likely to cheat as look at you. I bet this game ends up out in the street. Your bartender probably cuts the whiskey, too.”
Now, if he hears that kind of talk, McK leans over and tells the stranger, “Friend, we welcome you to this table. But I have to tell you that your tone of cynicism and despair, well, it disturbs me. Folks as come here to chat and play come to this table with a spirit of honesty and openness. I think, if you’re willin? to watch and listen and see how we play, you’ll find this an honest game.”
Sometimes the stranger apologizes and admits that he brought some baggage to the table from a previous conversation. Sometimes not. A number of hands and conversations go by and the talk takes a turn that requires some intense listenin? — one of our beloved (and every once in a while, someone who?s been out rockin? on the porch) is sharin? some deep pain or personal conflict.
And then it happens. Someone forgets the law and raises their voice, fixin? to call someone out for cheatin? or lyin? or talkin? too much or gettin? off topic! Criminitley!
And danged if things don?t pretty much goes down hill from there.
But not for long.
See, nobody at these tables is packin? iron, friend. Most of ?em are brothers and sisters in Christ. They work hard to listen and not jump down each other’s throats. Sometimes they do better ?n other times. But there?s plenty among ?em who have tender spots around some of McK?s topics. So, they?ve learned to try to approach each other with questions that are full of grace and mercy and love, not accusations about ?rhetoric? and ?invective? ? and other high falutin? words. You know?givin? each other the benefit of the doubt. Treatin? folk the same as they?re wantin? to be treated.
They?re a pretty mixed bunch, them Jesus Creeders, holdin? about as many different views as you can imagine on just about every topic McK tosses out! And you don’t have to agree with ?em, either (and that?s one of the best things about ?em, if you ask me). You do, however, have to listen with respect and respond with love. Because the law in this here town is The Jesus Creed. And John and I (among others) sometimes feel obliged to slip on our Deputy badge when McK is out playin? golf or teachin? or whatever. (I hear tell he?s got him another job besides the saloon, if you can believe it!)
Anyway, some Deputy may ask you to step outside for a spell, to remind you about our law?not to shoot you or haul you off to jail! Heaven?s no! And then you’re welcome to come on back and take your seat at the table. There?s a whole lot of helpful conversation takin? place ? and lots of fun and laughs, too ? and we don?t want anyone to miss out.
Jesus Creeders ? good folk enjoyin? good fellowship by lovin? God and lovin? others.