The Day Reverend Henderson Bumped His Head
A Parable By William H. Willimon
Leaning down toward the bottom shelf to retrieve his trusty Strong’s Concordance to pursue “new moon” through both testaments, the Reverend Henry Henderson, pastor of Sword of Truth Presbyterian Church, bumped his head.
“Darn,” he exclaimed, grabbing his forehead.
This he followed immediately with, “Damn,” which was muttered with atypical candor. The rather non-ministerial ejaculation surprised
That, so far as the Reverend Henderson could tell, was how it all began—an accidental blow to the brain while reaching for a concordance.
Moments later the phone rang.
“Pastor,” whined a nasal voice at the other end, “are you busy?”
“Not at all…” said
His words paralyzed him. They must also have stunned the whiny voice at the other end of the line, for there was a long, awkward silence followed by “Er, well, I’ll call you at home tonight after work, Pastor.”
The receiver dropped from his hand and into the telephone cradle. He felt odd. Yes, quite odd. His head no longer throbbed. Yet he felt odd.
Emerging from his study, he encountered Jane Smith, come to church for her usual Friday duties for the altar guild. “As usual, just me,” she said to
“I think you know very well why they are not here,” said
Smith nearly dropped the offering plate she was holding, along with the polishing cloth and the Brasso.
“Pastor! How dare you accuse me of being a complainer! You know how hard I’ve worked to get the altar guild going! If you gave us volunteers the kind of support we ought to…”
Out in the parking lot, gasping for fresh air,
“Glad I caught you,” said John. “Pray for
“I doubt that
“What do you mean?” asked
“You know what I mean. ‘Under the weather’ is your euphemistic way of saying ‘dead drunk.’ Denial is not just a river in
He was a pastor in peril.
And in Room 204: “Really? So this is the strain of emphysema that is not caused by smoking? Give me a break! Two packs a day for thirty years, and you wonder why you’re sucking on an oxygen tank for dear life?”
At the Finance Committee meeting that evening: “Why wring our hands about the sad state of the budget? You don’t need to be Einstein to figure this one out. I know very well that I am giving more to this church than anybody in the room tonight, and you know that I’ve got the lowest salary of anyone in the room—thanks to you.”
On Sunday, his last words to the frantic choir director, just before the procession began, were, or so it was said, “Why worry about not having a couple of tenors? Will tenors redeem an anthem already ravaged by this choir?”
After that fateful Sunday service, after a pastoral prayer in which
The now ex-Reverend
Although most members of Sword of Truth Church, for compassion’s sake, never spoke his name in years to come, when