What Do You Believe?

Every year at the
Great Big Gathering of the Righteous
the young wannabes would
stand so tall before the assembled
to be asked the all-important
what-do-you-believe-about questions
in order to determine their fitness
for the furtherance of the faith.
What-do-you-believe-about women preachers?
What-do-you-believe-about gays?
What-do-you-believe-about tongues and healing?
What-do-you-believe-about the just war?
For years at the
Great Big Gathering of the Righteous
an old rubbled-hearted pastor in his
out of fashion rags would rise
in the rear of the room to
ask the same nagging question
to the young minds without scars:
What-do-you-believe-about the blood?
Those first few years the question caught
them off guard but after that they
came ready with polished
answers tailored for publication.
For years this happened at the
Great Big Gathering of the Righteous
who, if we’re being honest, were
embarrassed by not only the pastor
but his annual bloody question.
Finally the pastor’s heart gave out
and he died.
You’d think at least one righteous
picked up that torch of a question to carry it.
But you’d think wrong, no not one.
The man and his question were ashed
by the hotter topics of the day.
*Based on a story told to me and others by Eugene Peterson.

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  1. Sandy Hay on August 25, 2015 at 12:52 pm

    no words..just sadness

  2. Ruth Brown on August 25, 2015 at 2:41 pm

    Thank you, John and Eugene. May we all pick up that torch…Lord Jesus, thank you for ‘the rubble hearted pastor in his out of fashion rags’.

  3. restoringsimple on August 25, 2015 at 2:53 pm

    Oh thats good.

  4. shelgeyer on August 25, 2015 at 3:27 pm

    thankful for your voice….you lend words to those of us that ramble and claw towards the light. Makes my heart hurt a little….

    • thebeautifuldue on August 25, 2015 at 6:29 pm

      Thank you very much. And yes, makes mine hurt a little too.

  5. pastordt on August 25, 2015 at 4:02 pm

    Oh my goodness, John! This so beautifully and specifically describes the current state of far too much of the evangelical church. We have conflated the peripheral with the central, and are losing our way. Oh Lord, bring back a few old preachers, with great wisdom and the guts to speak it. Thank you so much for this.

  6. Michele Morin on August 25, 2015 at 4:38 pm

    Feeling a little “ashed” myself, and thankful for this call to the Center — who is also the Circumference (I think that’s another Eugene Peterson-ism).

  7. jodyo70 on August 25, 2015 at 5:47 pm

    wow….the last line stopped me cold, the preacher’s words being ‘ashed out’ by hotter topics.

  8. avamw on August 25, 2015 at 9:56 pm

    only hearts weep the bloody answer
    Lord have mercy on us all

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  10. Joy Lenton on August 26, 2015 at 3:09 pm

    This is ‘stop-in-the-tracks’ hard-hitting and powerful. What a mighty wordsmith you are, John! And what a strong sentiment to leave us with. What about the blood, indeed? Getting back to the essentials and making first things first is so important. Thank you.

  11. annkroeker on August 26, 2015 at 5:30 pm

    Ah, and here you are…asking slant. On this here Internet, we aren’t the “Great Big Gathering of the Righteous,” but we are rightly asked, “What do you believe about the blood?” I don’t have a polished answer, but I’ll treasure these things, pondering them in my heart.

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