When the men in jail I minister to think of King James it’s usually LeBron, not the king of England who commissioned a native language translation of the Bible in 1611. We read scripture together every service. With difficulty. Putting the Living Word of God into the mouths of spiritual babes with grade school reading skills takes a listening skill aimed at the heart more than the diction or cadence. After a few shared attempts we’ll examine and ponder the verses for personal meaning and revelation, that more will be revealed is the one constant we’ve discovered.
Finding a modern comprehensible equivalent for a Bible story, or an ancient bit of vernacular, is often rewarded when the light begins to shine in a face that had been darkened in its understanding. We some times wonder if Jesus had similar Kodak moments when his parables gained footing with his immediate gang of disciples that he qualified as being yet, so dull.
The word disciple is a case in point. One of those Christian words everybody hears and assumes it means somebody else, at least for the time being, because after all what is it asking of us to be a disciple? A hand went up in the second pew from the back, the back pew being taped off and waiting repair for some months now, suggesting that disciple meant follower, and like the original followers the question of ‘Where are You going Lord that we might know where to follow?” went through our own upper room.
A simple brilliance settled amongst us when someone quoted the story of the foot washing and suggested the following required was one of following His example. Coming to serve rather than be served. The men are all sentenced to serving time. Like the song says, “It might be the devil or it might be the Lord, but you gotta serve somebody.”
The idea that Jesus is working on building our mansions in heaven rankled somebody, “I’d like it better if He put a little time into getting me a crib when I get out of here, or I’m in danger of coming back in.” Is there a silver lining to serve that sentiment? It put a little wrench in our discussion. We only have forty five minutes til the guards close the chapel for the evening and as the Pastor I’d prefer to end on a high note rather than a point of contention.
“We’re living in a broken world that could sure enough use a good mechanic.” Our elder statesman, in year fourteen of his internment was bringing us back home. “It might help to look at ourselves as apprentices to Jesus, if the word disciple is too vague. And the tool He’s put in our hand to work with is compassion. Compassion is Jesus’s wrench.’
The entire room nodded in one of those you got to be a man to know how loud a silent agreement sounds. One of the younger gents got up and faced the group, “Yeah, we could turn it around. We could take ‘The Apprentice’ back from Donald Trump and our motto would be, “You’re Hired!”
We bowed our heads to end the evening, but our vision was going through the clouds to see the Creator with a Master plan smiling as He wiped his pierced and greasy hands on a white robe that never gets stained.