Pastor Roberts

  by m. james moore

  Pastor Roberts decided out of the blue to walk to church that day. It was, after all, a small town and only about seven or eight blocks away. He put one og othse round sticky bandages on his cheek as he'd fallen asleep with his glasses on again and got scratched in the middle of the night. He decided to bring a few more in case he required a replacement.

  It was a clear warm day with a lovely breeze here and there. Despite the great weather conditions, Pastor Roberts was worried. He wasn't really worried about the sermon he was about to deliber, not about what to have for dinner later, or if they would get on time today. He worried about whether he was fulfilling the great commission well enough.

  "Lord," he said, saying a little prayer on his way, "tell me if I'm doing things right. Am I doing a good job representing you and your kingdom?"

  He closed the prayer appropriately as he passed an antique shhop window. There, he saw a spectacular display of finley polished silver cutlery, china teapots, serving trays, even a pair of old spectacles and wax fruit as a nice touch. Previously a shop owner himself, Pastor Roberts was compelled to comment, although no one stood around to hear him.

  "A fantastic arrangement! Perfect!" he spoke, wrinkling his eyebrow and gazing closer. A soft moan broke his concentration. His eyes glanced randomly trying to hear the sound again -- happening to land on the "Be Back Later, Will Return" clock in the door of the shop. He heard it again and figured it had come from across the street. A vagrant sat kneading his hand and id not look up.

  Pastor Roberts glanced at his watch, and began walking to church again, rolling his sermon over in his head.

  Pastor Roberts arrived at church, said his sermon, and was on the way out to his car. "Oh, wait. I walked," he thought. Shrugging, he set back out in the same direction he'd come that morning.

  Aproaching the market square again, things began to come to life. Cars moving, people looking in windows, some waiting for them to open. Through the small increasing bustle, he head the moan once again. He paused, then continued walking.

  "I've got folk at home to feed," he said quietly, as if trying to excuse himself. He was on the side of the street that the vagrant was not and increased his pace. However, he slowed to the antique shop window. The arrangement was just as neat and proper as it had been before, but the window was smudged and smeared with dust and speckles.

  Had it been that way when he walked past the first time? About that time the owner and his son arrived and propped the door open.

  "I've got things for you to do..." said the owner to the son, mumbling off as they got further into the store. Just then, the moan crept up on Pastor Roberts again. He paused, looking at the dusty window, and felt compelled to go across the street to the vagrant. So he did.

  He approached the fellow in tattered clothes, who say up against the bricks of a shop. He knelt down to the fellow's level.

  "What's your trouble, friend?"

  The vagrant slowly upturned his head and the ill expression turned soft and happy. "Howdy pastor. I rolled over on my eye glasses here in the night. They broke, and I plumb cut my hand on the back when I was trying to get the lens back in."

  Pastor Roberts squinted and remembered his small bandages. He retrieved one from his suit pocket, peeling the plastic lining off and took the man's hand. He placed the tiny sticky bandage firmly on the cut. A smile came across the vagrant's face, and he patted the pastor on the shoulder, and handed him the frames of his near-broken spectacles.

  Pastor Roberts helped the fellow up and led him across the street to the antique shop. He led him inside where he saw the spectacles earlier, to buy the pair he'd seen.