Shaking hands at the door of the sanctuary after the service, the pastor noticed frowns on several of his parishioners’ faces. “I don’t know, pastor,” one man said, pointing an accusing finger at him. “If I were you I’d take a look at Romans 2:1.”
When all had gone home for Sunday dinner and he feared his own was getting cold, the minister went back to his study to gather his things. His Bible was on the desk. Remembering his friend’s admonition, he opened it to Romans 2:1 –
“Therefore you have no excuse, whoever you are, when you judge others; for in passing judgement on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, are doing the very same things.”
“Well, that’s pretty harsh,” he thought. “He has some nerve.”
The pastor decided he would call later and give him a piece of his mind. He looked up his number in the church directory to write it down and noticed something he had never seen before. The man’s picture. His gaze was piercing. In the pose, his hands were folded on a table in front of him but his index finger was pointing. Straight out from the picture. Right at the pastor. “That’s strange,” he thought. “I’d never noticed that before.”
The minister locked up the church and got in his car. Noting the time, he decided to take the interstate home. It was a few more miles but quicker. From the on ramp, he saw that the traffic was exceptionally heavy for a Sunday. “Must be an accident or something,” he sighed. He tried to merge, but no one would let him in. His temperature began to rise. Muttering turned to explosive cursing as driver after driver insisted on getting through without making room for him.
Finally, he saw a small opening and forced the front of the car into the gap. The man behind the wheel in the car he cut off laid on the horn but the pastor would not be denied. Finally, the man swung around, tires squealing, and passed him on the right, squeezing ahead of the frustrated minister once again. Before the car moved ahead of him, the pastor looked at its determined driver and shouted, “You idiot!” The man just glared and pointed his finger at the pastor. The right reverend was tempted to hold up another finger in reply, but somehow restrained himself. He turned up the air conditioning for the rest of the trip home.
“That was a pretty strong sermon this morning,” said the pastor’s wife as she passed the platter of meat to him at the table. “I would imagine more than a few people were unhappy about the way you criticized their sins.”
Out of the corner of his eye, he could see his children nodding their heads. When all had fixed their plates, they bowed and the pastor led them in the Lord’s Prayer. His eye squinted open just as they were saying, “Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us.” What was that? Each member of his family had eyes closed and hands folded on the table, but their index fingers were pointing toward the head of the table, straight out, directly at him. For a moment he fumbled his words, catching up again at, “but deliver us from evil…”
That afternoon, he decided to fix a shutter that needed attention on the side of the house. The pastor wasn’t much of a handyman, but this was straightforward. A couple of screws had worked their way loose and the wind had caught the shutter, ripping it away from the siding and leaving it hanging there crookedly. Just replace the screws and re-secure the shutter. All was going well until he leaned back to make sure he had it straight. His foot slipped and he went tumbling off the ladder, hitting the ground hard on his right arm. He knew immediately it was broken, and it felt like he might have busted the index finger on his right hand too.
The physician at the emergency room said he’d have to wear the cast for several weeks, and should keep his arm in a sling to keep from moving it. The finger was also in a cast to straighten it and keep it immobile. The resulting look was almost comical. His right arm was slung across his chest, with the index finger pointing upward, right under his chin.
As he was leaving the room, the doctor gave the pastor a wry smile. “Guess you’ll have something to preach about next Sunday, huh?”