Right after we moved here we visited the local church. Pretty much all the whole town had was a country store, (which we were destined to ruin), a church, a post office, and a couple of Inns. So the church seemed like a must see. And it was where the people would ostensibly be, so we went.
Now in our old city lives we were more Ethical Society/Unitarian types. Here there was a Unitarian Church, but it was an hour away. Our town boasted a beautiful United Church of Christ, which are notoriously liberal, and it was a five minute walk away. And Hannah, we were soon to learn, the social one in our group, apparently filled out one of those little cards in the pew that said we would like a visit. She, my little church going neophyte, thought a visit sounded just lovely. In fact since we were new and she wanted to meet lots of people she thought lots of visits would be even better. So she filled them out in several pews after church. Apparently she thought the whole town was going to stop by and say hello, maybe bring a dish. It would be fun. Those church deacons must have thought someone in our house was spiritually at death’s door.
And so after only one foray into the church coffee hour there very quickly came a day when the church secretary called us and said that the right Reverend would like to pay us a pastoral visit. We said we’d expect him on Tuesday night.
He sat in our living room where we served him eggnog and cookies as if he were Santa Claus. It was November and eggnog had just started showing up in the stores. It seemed festive.
It didn’t work. We were asked to talk about our spiritual lives. I felt compelled to explain that we were not would be deacons, and as he probed I told him that I’d become a Unitarian because the Jesus stories, the patriarchy or my intense Methodist upbringing, hadn’t worked for me. I believe that Jesus was a very cool guy sort of in the Ghandi model, and who is a child of God in much the same way I am or you are. Sort of an old pagan view.
My husband sat with his mouth hanging open, as I smugly felt that I was living my new life in honesty and truth. Then the Reverand said, I will never forget this as long as I live, I swear I am not making this up, that he wasn’t much of a Jesus guy himself….Uh-huh.
Not John and I both stared agape. Next he likened Jesus to a musician with perfect pitch, which we both sort of loved, and we felt we had landed in the most perfect place in the world.
Only then he came back. He brought us pea soup, because he’d heard we’d all gotten sick. Very sweet. He walked into our yard, without knocking, opened the gate, and ran smack into our dogs. Stuart, who had still not settled into this foreign new space, where there were constantly strange men with hammers and drills fixing some or other door or window was aggitated. But this, a man prancing into his yard, his patrol area, was too much. He barked as ferociously as he knew how in clear warning, but the Reverand simply tried to walk around him and OPEN the DOOR! Stuart did the only thing any self respecting terrier can do. He bit him…um, perhaps repeatedly around the ankle. Or maybe more like a heel nip. And the sweet pea soup carrying Reverand, the “not a Jesus guy” preacher carrying soup….kicked him. He kicked our dog….in his own yard. The soccer playing minister kicked our dog who actually rolled from the force.
Well, of course he did. I mean the guy is a preacher for a church called the United Church of CHRIST, for Christ’s sake, and he goes around pandering to the pagans by saying he’s not much of a Jesus guy. What did we expect? We had moved to a place we knew practically nothing about except that it was pretty. We worried about what else we didn’t know. Because we had managed to find a Republican town in an otherwise blue pactically communist state, and a dog kicking minister who would apparently say anything to get new members.
Not much of a Jesus guy? I figured Jesus was probaby glad….