I remember a number of church board meetings of my local church back in the day where one board member Mrs. Q would always raise the subject of disfellowshipping absentee members. The pastor would graciously reply that he was in contact with them.
Mrs. Q was a founding member of the church and was highly regarded by the community because she and her husband owned several houses as well as the main apartment building. In addition the hotel museum was Mrs. Q’s pride and joy because it told the story of the founding of the town and her family—the whole second floor of the two story-building was dedicated to the family.
She and her husband G had run a successful department store before passing it on to their son. Her daughter was deputy mayor, and Mrs. Q’s father had been a state senator.
However, at one board meeting the pastor must have had a rough week because when this dear saint began her discourse on disfellowshipping, he had enough. He said to her,
Pastor: “Sister A told me that she saw you in Kroger (supermarket) and you refused to talk with her. She was hurt by your neglect.”
Mrs. Q replied coldly, “I saw her, but I have an image to uphold in this community. I do not associate with her kind.”
Pastor: “What ‘kind’ is that?”
Mrs. Q: “White trash, and everyone knows that she conceived her child out of wedlock, and I do not want that child associating with my grandchildren in my church.”
The pastor was on the edge of furious indignation.
Pastor: “Did you know that her fiancé was killed in the war before they could be married? Their child was conceived the night before he shipped out, and it was a loving gesture between two individuals who had made a commitment before God to share their mortal lives on this earth.”
Mrs. Q: “Such behavior is sin regardless of the reason. It would have been better for the child to have never been born since the child has to carry the scarlet shame of his mother’s sin.”
Pastor: “You mean abortion?”
Mrs. Q: “A lesser sin than fornication for the child’s sake. We live in a cruel world, and sin is everywhere. This poor child will be forever lost because of her act.”
Pastor: “ I see. I understand that when Brothers H and S asked you about renting an apartment as their house was being repaired from the storm damage, you rudely told them no?”
Mrs. Q: “I only rent to decent, upright people. Everyone knows that two men living alone are unfit for one of my rentals and for the true church. I would be condoning their immoral lifestyle if I rented to them. I fail to see why you won’t remove them from membership. I am sure that liberal Seminary in the Midwest you attended has affected your sense of right and wrong.”
One could tell the pastor was on the edge.
Pastor: “Did you know that their wives were sisters who died in a tragic car accident twenty years ago, and the brother-in-laws with their modest retirement income found it financially easier to share a house? ”
Mrs. Q: “The appearance of evil should be avoided even if they had to survive on soup and bread instead of giving people the impression that they are more than brother-in-laws.”
Pastor: “I understand that every Friday night you and your husband enjoy Omaha steaks with invited guests. Has it ever occurred to you to invite these men over for supper?”
Mrs. Q: “I don’t see your point. We don’t know them, and we certainly don’t invite strangers in our home.”
Pastor: “Let me tell you what Brothers H and S’s Friday dinner consists of—cornbread and beans with whatever fresh vegetables they grow in their garden. Beans are their main source of protein. They cannot afford the delicacy of prime rib or imported beef.”
Mrs. Q was not impressed by the Pastor’s statement. She sat there with a haughty look of contempt.
Pastor: “Do you know what Hebrews 13:2 declares?
Mrs. Q: “I do not have my Bible with me or my reading spectacles.”
Pastor: “It says, ‘Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.’ This church should be a place where all strangers are welcomed and embraced. Your continual insistence that we remove people from the membership list is an affront to the God who you profess to serve and His children.”
There was an eerie silence in the board room. With arrogant dignity Mrs. Q got up and walked out.
Unfortunately, before the month over, the pastor was reassigned to another church in the conference, since she and her husband were “generous” contributors to the cause. Where there is money, church leaders yield unflinchingly to “recommendations”.
Mrs. Q continued her demands with the new pastor who was inclined to follow her recommendations to the letter. She even gave him the sermon outlines for the services each week. He would remain in her good graces for years to come.
One hundred and twenty names were disfellowshipped including Sister A and Brothers H and S as well as the J Family who did not dress appropriately for the church based on the standards set by Mrs. Q. To Mrs. Q and many like her, if you were disfellowshipped, this meant that your salvation was null and void.
To her Heaven was a one way ticket or a gold card for the select few. Only the ones who belonged to her church without question would sit at that dinner table.
Mrs. Q imagined that dinner in the sky would be loaded with selections of Wagyu, Filet Mignon, Porterhouse, Ayam Cemani, Fugu, tender veal, succinct lamb, Almas caviar, and with many other delicacies. She believed that wine would be in abundance, even though her church did not allow such indulgences on earth; still, for medicinal purposes, she kept a bottle of Audry Cognac hidden away in her shoe closet.
For her, after the empyreal repast, they would stroll the streets of gold and touch the gates of pearl. There would be a lot of laughter, jovial frolicking.
Later there would be assembly for choir practice. Only the right kind of voices would be allowed, and since Mrs. Q had a lovely voice—so many people said so—she would be there. After all, her mother paid for her to attend Julliard where her voice was trained like an angel’s.
Eventually, Mrs. Q passed to her eternal slumber at 99 and was laid in her private gated family mausoleum overlooking the town which her grandfather founded in the 1890s. She was finally with the right kind of people in death.
However, after slumber comes an awakening. What would be her eternal reward, we may wonder?
We can only conjecture that she would find the true Paradise filled with the wrong kind of people, especially the choir of lost souls from all stations of life redeemed by infinite love.
For the redeemed are those who have faced life on this planet traversing the cosmos with the label of being unworthy of a place at the earthly salvation banquet. They were rejected by religious communities who preferred selection to open invitation.
Many were rejected and cast out from their religious communities. The saints of orthodoxy could find no place for them in their hearts or a pew.
The pastor who argued with Mrs. Q eventually left the church and found a group of caring, compassionate believers who embraced their community. For he found too many Mrs. Qs in his church, but outside the gates of the one true church, there are many who love all of God’s children without question.
So ends this allegory about Mrs. Q and the Pastor. What lesson you gain from this determines where you may be on the road of life heading for the cosmic ocean.
G. D. Williams © 2018