Ron’s Time Tunnel: The Sermon Part II

Church shot-Sermon 2

As implied by the title, this post is a continuation of “The Sermon.”  If you haven’t already, please go check it out.

“Ha!” growled the Right Reverend A. Jordan Smith. “I can’t get many Amens today!” he bellowed; his body leaning forward; beads of sweat now rolling down his forehead in rivulets; his veined hands clutching the top of the lectern, as if he expected it to flee in fear as he vociferously challenged the congregation to pitch their spiritual fervor to an even higher height. The audience responded with shouts of “Preach!”, “Gwan nigh!”, “Yassuh”, the latter rising up from the Deacons” Amen Corner” as Deacon Charlie Tigner chimed in.

The Right Reverend A. Jordan Smith continued his discourse; “It takes a wide road for a whoremonger.” The church got quiet for a brief moment, but once over the initial “shock and awe” of the Reverend Smith’s bombardment, their zeal resumed. “Yes, I said it!” he shouted in response to the congregation’s reaction. Then on down the road he went, “It takes a wide road for a whoremonger, cause when he mess around with this woman over here, he soon got to run to the other side of the road before he get brained by a frying pan or some such!” he exclaimed emphatically, “Ha!” followed by the inevitable, punctuating growl, as he tip-toed to the other side of the road; ducking his head from an imaginary blow.

“It takes a wide-wide road for a drunkard;” Deacon Tigner suddenly developed an urge to use the men’s outhouse but he gave a final shout of “Amen Preacher!” as he exited the Amen Corner, and slid out the side door. “It takes a wide road for a drunkard, cause when he stagger to one side of the road,” Reverend Smith staggered like a drunk man across his imaginary “wide road”. “He got to have room cause he soon gonna stagger back to the other side. If it was not for such a wide road, that drunk Negro would be in a ditch somewhere; wallowing in the mud like somebody’s old sow” then, “Ha!” came the isochronous interjection. The din in the church was at a fevered pitch!

“It takes a wide road for a backslider, cause when he slide over to this side of the road, he got to cover his tracks and slide back to the other side of the road; just like one a them sidewinder snakes you hears about out there in Texas or somewhere!” As Reverend Smith made this assertion, he made a move like a snake slithering, thus causing a couple of the old sisters to swoon. Whether it was the Spirit moving or Reverend Smith’s slick moves that caused them to faint, we may never know.

“It takes a wide, wide, wide road for a gossiper.” This declaration by the Right Reverend, must have had the same kind of effect as Jesus’ words, “Lazarus come forth!”, which compelled old four days dead Lazarus, to come up out of his grave, because one of the old sisters who had latterly swooned, suddenly raised up just like Lazarus must have; eyes bucked wide! “It takes a wide road for the gossiper, because when she hears some good juicy gossip over here, she can’t wait to run to the other side of the road and tell somebody over there what she just heard! Ha!” the Right Reverend continued; his booming voice firing cannonballs that hit their targets without err. He was on a roll!

Friends, I have to, once again, ask for your forgiveness and patience as time and space have run out today; but if you check us out next week, you can hear the conclusion of the Right Reverend A. Jordan Smith’s sermon, “The Wide Road.”


Next Friday:  Conclusion of “The Sermon”



Ron’s Time Tunnel: The Sermon

Reverend A. Jordan Smith in the early 1900s

“Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in there-at, because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it” (KJV Matthew 17:13-14).

Gramp’s father was a “preacher.” The Right Reverend A. Jordan Smith, were his name and his “entitlements”. But, there are those who say that Reverend A. Jordan Smith was what some discourteously call, a “Jackleg” preacher! The term “jackleg,”according to Merriam-Webster is: “a person characterized by unscrupulousness, dishonesty, or lack of professional standards <a jackleg lawyer> b: lacking skill or training: amateur <a jackleg carpenter>”. However, the Right Reverend A. Jordan Smith, by all accounts, was a decent and upstanding gentleman landholder, husband, and father. A man without a dishonest bone in his tall, sturdy frame. Obviously, the term “jackleg,” in Great-Grandpa Jordan’s case, referred solely to his lack of “formal” training as a minister.

Great-Grandpa Jordan cut a striking image; sturdy of frame; stylishly suited, booted, and hatted. His stern, brown visage was preceded, in his coming, by a thick, black, walrus-styled moustache. His hands, large and strong, articulated at the end of a pair of equally impressive arms. He was a gentleman, but a gentleman who was accustomed to the hard work of farm life and, he was a preacher; jackleg or not!

In those days and to some degree “these days”, in order to be a preacher, one had to be “called” to preach. That meant that God himself had caused some dramatic event to happen in the subject’s life which, to him, was a sure sign that he was to go forth and spread the Gospel. Most men experiencing this event of being “called” (e.g. being struck or nearly struck by lightning) would be compelled to swoon.

Some would remain in a stuporous, catatonic, or near-catatonic state for hours; sometimes only awakening when their own shoe was waved in front of their noses. During this comatose condition, God would speak to the subject in a vision; giving him his “charge”! Upon awakening, the stunned man would have morphed into a “righteous” man whom, henceforth, was in the “soul-saving business”. Who’s to say that Jordan Smith, farmer of land, had not been so converted into the Right Reverend A. Jordan Smith, farmer for God? Sowing the seeds of faith amongst the wayward ilk.

One Sunday, according to Gramp, Reverend Smith preached a sermon from the text at the beginning of this story. The following is the “gist “of that sermon; sans the perfunctory introduction, song, prayer, and other “points of order”:

“Good Christians must travel the narrow road, for wide is the road to destruction” he began. “There are all kinds of sinners on the wide road. These sinners NEED a wide road” he bellowed as his large hand thrust skyward, emphasizing the word “need”. It takes a WIDE road for a LIAR, cause when he tells a lie on this side of the road!” his voice becoming more strident, as he stepped to the side of an imaginary wide road. “He got to ruuuunnnnn over to the other side of the road to back up the lie he just told!” he continued, punctuating his statement with a loud, gravelly, “HA!” as he quickly trotted to the other side of the imaginary road; hand to his mouth as if whispering some juicy bit of gossip into an eagerly waiting ear.

“It takes a wide road for a gambler!” he informed the congregation emphatically. “Because when he throw his dice on one side of the road, he’s got to ruuuunnnn over to the other side of the road so he can throw them dice again, HA!” he exclaimed as he enacted the process of shaking and tossing dice, then trotting over to the other side of the “road”.

By this time, the congregation was “chunking back” at the Reverend. In other words, they were giving him all of the Amen and Hallelujah shouts he needed to “bring down his Helper” and fill him with Holy Spirit. One could almost see said Holy Spirit descending from the rafters of the old church building like a feathery veil of warm mist.

Sorry congregants, but I’ll have to stop right here.  However,  I invite you to come and join us next Friday to hear the rest of “The Sermon” by The Right Reverend A. Jordan Smith!