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The Poor and Rich Churches
There once was a little boy named Jedaiah. He lived in a very large town, in a very small, broken down, house with his mother and father. Every Sunday three of them would put on their best clothing and walk a mile to their little white church on top of the hill. The church too was very small and needed repaired. The roof leaked, the walls were cracked, the chimney had been broken even before Jedaiah was born, and the only thing beautiful about the church was in spring when the flowers bloomed all across the hillside, but still, people just like Jedaiah’s family gathered there every Sunday. People poor in money but rich in love. Despite the churches appearance the people looked after each other. When Old Lady Thompson’s donkey broke its leg Jedaiah’s father pulled the cart all the way to the market for her. Whenever Jedaiah got a cold Miss Mabel would skip straight over to their house and give him some of her famous chicken noodle soup. It was so good some actually looked forward to getting sick! Mr. Farris was a quiet man who didn’t care much for people but still did his part by tending the grave yard. Each morning (when they were in bloom) fresh flowers would be laid on each grave. Everyone showed up to church hungry—and not just for God’s word. No one had much but whenever there was a pot luck the table would groan under the weight of the food! No, these people were not rich in mere money, they were rich in love. God’s love.
One day Jedaiah’s mother sent him to the market with a dirty face, bare feet, and an empty stomach. He spotted a barrel of apples and his stomach growled loudly. The young boy put a hand over his belly and licked his lips, then continued to stare longingly. A rich, fat, woman, clothed in fluffy lairs of pink and white heard the noise his stomach was making and cried “Oh you poor child!” She scooped him up and pressed him to her oversized bosom, much to Jedaiah’s surprise. “Oh! I shall take you home, feed you, and make a proper gentleman out of you, you poor thing!” She ran to the carriage as fast as her chubby legs could carry her, threw him in and fallowed closely behind. Just like that Jedaiah had been plunged into the upper class.
He was washed, fed, poked, prodded, and finally put to bed. In the morning he was jammed into very nice and itchy clothes with matching tight shoes. He could not protest about all this because he knew he would not do as well at home. Though Jedaiah was not enjoying himself he refused to complain. In the morning Jedaiah found out that the rich fat lady had many servants help clothe her in a deep purple dress and then she sprayed herself down with entirely too much perfume. After the two of them had been absurdly over dressed the fat lady grabbed Jedaiah’s wrist and dragged him into the carriage. “We’re going to church!” She exclaimed. “That’s where Jesus is!”
“I go to church every Sunday with my parents!” Jedaiah bragged. “That’s where Jesus is!”
“Do you now?” The woman asked “Which one?
With a blush on his cheek little Jedaiah replied “The little white church on the hill.”
“The falling down one on the outskirts of town?!” The rich lady laughed “My dear boy, you shall like my church so much better!” The carriage stopped at a place that was practically a cathedral! There were huge stain glass windows, statues of saints, gargoyles, and a beautiful carpet spread across the floor. Jedaiah gaped and stared with an open mouth for a long time until the woman spoke “You like my church?”
All’s the little boy could do was nod.
Oh, to see the beautiful people that came through the door! So lovely! Each woman was like a wonderful, colorful, flower and each man was like a great and tall tree. Large and handsome. Jedaiah stared in awe until the old lady nudged him and said “Close your mouth lad. See? I told you you’d like my church.”
Jedaiah could only nod.
The preacher gave the most boring sermon! On what, Jedaiah couldn’t say. It was so boring he couldn’t find the will to pay attention! Sermons at Jedaiah’s white church on the hill were never boring. They could fill each person with hope or make everyone weep. Sometimes the people weren’t weeping because of their sins; they were reminded of how much Jesus loved each and every one of them despite their sins.
After the dull sermon the old woman walked up to a young, blond, lady, in a blue dress and asked “Where is your husband, Mark, and baby Abigail?”
“Both of them are home sick she replied.
Jedaiah tugged on the rich lady’s sleeve and motioned her to lean down to him. “Perhaps we should bring them a bowl of soup.” Just like Miss Mabel always did.
“Are you crazy?!” She asked “We could fall ill ourselves!”
Jedaiah looked around and saw a grown man with sadness in his brown eyes. He didn’t know just what to do or what to say but he had a feeling of what needed to be done. Little Jedaiah marched over and hugged the man’s leg. That was all he could reach! The man’s eyes widened in surprise, he looked down, then scooped up little Jedaiah and hugged him. Jedaiah threw his arms around the man’s neck and nuzzled himself against him. A precious sight the two made. “Jedaiah! Come along!” The rich old woman called sternly. The man unwillingly set him down and smiled as Jedaiah trotted off. “I’ve heard nasty rumors about that bloke!” the old woman hissed in his ear. “You best keep away from him!”
“He didn’t seem dangerous to me, just…Sad.” He replied.
About five paces away a little child—smaller than Jedaiah—about the age of three, wailed in his mother’s arms. The babe had tripped and skinned his knee while playing tag with the big kids.
“Will you please silence that child?!” Roared another old woman whose wrinkly face looked pulled a little too tight over her harsh features. “We are trying to hold a conversation here, thank you very much!”
As the old rich lady and he exited the church Jedaiah thought aloud “No one seems to love each other in this church…”
The old woman had no reply.
“Miss Mabel always brings soup to the sick, we always hug those who are sad, and all the women faun over crying children. Sometimes they dote on them with sweets…Only if they’re lucky though…” He didn’t want to make them sound spoiled. If you recall everyone in his church was terribly poor. “That’s where Jesus is.”
“Where?” Asked the rich woman
“Kindness and caring.” He replied “Least that’s where I seem him…I think God is wherever Christians are, not just our churches.” Jedaiah said reaching for the old lady’s hand.
A single tear rolled out of her left eye, down her cheek, unto her chin and hit her front.
Port Pirie, ZZ