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And what, children, is the lesson for today?

I went to church yesterday far earlier than normal. I mean, I got up, got dressed, cooked and ate breakfast, and was still ready to hit the door at 9:00 instead of 10:30. Okay, fine, I think, as I drive over to what has been called “sketch-ass” by some of my friends, Durham. I really was in one of the sketch-est parts, right down the road from where my grandmother used to live in a quiet (relatively) neighborhood behind Central’s law school. But, I digress. This is not about the sketchiness, or sketchness, even, of the Medicine City. This is all about church there yesterday.

Alright, so I went to church yesterday earlier than usual (yes, I did remember to pay back that $5 I owe to G*d…)where I walked in on Sunday school. I usually don’t have the pleasure of attending church and getting to ask questions about the stuff we read. One will find that one of my biggest interests is arguing about religion – this setting gives me the opportunity to do so. I may have to go to Sunday School more often. Wow, my mind is running off in thousands of different directions today.
What I wanted to say was that I got up early, hit the church at about 9:30, and made it to Sunday school where we learned about “The Good Samaritan”, having compassion for others, and being a good neighbor. All that Jesus stuff we’re supposed to follow everyday. More so than the rules about an-eye-for-an-eye, and stoning witches, and condemning homosexuals…none of which I hold with, unless of course its condemning a homosexual witch who has just rammed her car into the back of the guy’s car who hit her car, in an eye-for-an-eye-esque fashion. It made me think, after hearing about how the Good Samaritan had taken out two pence (translate: two days wages, translate:$136 in my money) to help out this guy who had been beaten up by thieves that perhaps I was a little lagging in my “goodness-to-others” meter for the year. I mean, the food I buy for the homeless guy that lives at the base of Woody’s Tavern could hardly add up to two days wages, you know?

So I thought that after praise & worship, which is where we stand, dance, and do a bit of singing and clapping as well(personally, my favorite part. Even though I’m supposed to get something out of the entire service, I must admit that the part I enjoy the most is kicking my feet, clapping my hands, and listening for intricate melodies interwoven in the tapestry that is Reggae/Gospel – or Hip-Hop/Gospel, R&B/Gospel-music.), we would have a normal church service. I sit down, the pastor guy stands up, we flip through Ol’ King Jim’s version, and then we pay the money.

Nope, wrong…he had a surprise for us. Continuing the lesson of the good samaritan, it seems that he had been out doing some good-neighborly type things himself. Actually, according to him, he hadn’t intended to be good neighborly at all. This guy, a guy who ended up coming to church with him by the way, had only come up to his car to ask if he could have a meal at church…not our church, Church’s Chicken. Good choice, bum guy… Anyway, they sat down, chatted, and it ended up with a prayer and an invite to church – which the guy accepted. So, he ended up getting prayed over, and I do mean prayed over. It was quite loud, the men are called to the front, and then the Holy Spirit must’ve hit them all because they began praying in tongues and he fell backwards to the floor. That didn’t make them stop though, that didn’t make anyone in the church stop – except for me, who sat down and began taking note of the organized chaos surrounding me on the back of a church bulletin. I want to remember this moment forever. I’m not quite sure why, yet, but I know I don’t want to forget.

3 men don’t go to the front, one a teenager who had a crush on my sister though I think he was quite old for her, one the brother of the family that predominates the church population, and one a twisted little older man who had just started coming to services and playing his guitar. A woman who came to church with him occasionally, to sing, actually goes to the church down the street – but I think he likes us better. I wonder, if my father were here, would he go to the front? Would he see himself as a person who needed to be the one intervening on this stranger’s behalf? Do they all somehow know what to do, is he a “man of the church?” Just a few minutes later, I have my answer. He would look, curiously, and pray from his seat, deciding that the other men in church must have it covered, and he will not go without being called. I see this as a good decision. While he will stand in agreement, my brothers will talk about video games and my new hairdo, and ask me to open a juice-box for him, and they will be shushed several times by me.

I guess the guy was pretty serious about his salvation, because he changed clothes and decided to get baptized, and offered to begin playing the keyboard for the church. So maybe it wasn’t all gone to waste. Or maybe he was an actor, like those snak eoil doctors used to plant in audiences…people who were supposedly too lame to walk all of a sudden stood up and acted like it was a miracle. But somehow, I don’t think so.

So the lesson for that day?
Perhaps the Good Samaritan should have focused more on making sure that the traveler knew better than to travel down the road alone, and offered him something a little more long-lasting than a hotel stay and a few bandages. I mean, what good is healing a man who plans to go out there and mess himself up all over again?