Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Jail House Rock

Pixabay, Public Domain
Sy and I were minding our own business, just shooting the breeze as we walked. We’d landed in a pleasant enough place, met some nice people. In fact, we were on our way to the river to meet up with some of the gals from the church. They were into praying — the girls seem to do well at that for some reason — and if we didn’t move it, we were going to miss the announcements (we like to get them out of the way first so as not to disturb the flow of the worship). I was already warming up my vocal chords:

Gonna lay down my sword and shield, Down by the riverside, Down by the riverside …*

Not exactly a worship song, but it was my own personal favourite seeing as how I’d spent a lot of years fighting against the followers of The Way before God got my undivided attention.

I was kind of hoping we could get through the center of town without that crazy fortune-teller appearing. She, or her handlers, always seemed to know where we would be at any given time. Mind you, we never made any secret about our schedules. The whole point of being in this town was to talk about The Way, and a public forum was the best way to do that.

Under different circumstances, the girl could have been a poster child for our movement. For days she had followed us, but instead of saying whatever it was she was supposed to say to earn some bread for the dudes who skulked around behind her, she always ended up preaching. It was a good message too: “These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved.”** Sy joked that if I wasn’t careful, I’d lose my job. Fat chance, says I, the Boss told me I would preach in Rome and since I hadn’t been there on either of my previous foreign trips, I figured I was not going to join the ranks of the unemployed anytime soon. Besides, the church wasn’t ready for women preachers — yet!

Well, I decided if she was going to preach, she might as well do it from personal conviction rather than against the will of the snake that possessed her. As she appeared at the head of the street and came toward us, I met her with a divinely inspired message of my own:

“In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!”***

It seemed that no one but the girl and us was happy with the result. The town went into a major meltdown. Next thing you know we’re being hauled into court, beaten and thrown into jail. Sometimes, you gotta wonder how a day can go south so fast. Personally, I call it “The Joseph Syndrome.”

Since we couldn’t think of anything better to do with our time — seeing as how there wasn’t anything better to do with our time — we picked up where I’d left off in the morning.

Gonna put on my long white robe
Down By the riverside
Down by the riverside
Down by the riverside
Gonna put on my long white robe
Down by the riverside
Ain't gonna study war no more.

It was a long song, and we sang all the verses, interspersing them with the prayers we had not quite gotten to earlier in the day.

There were a few other unfortunates in the hoosegow with us. They didn’t know the words, but by the time we got to the last chorus, they were humming right along:

Ain't gonna study war no more
Ain’t gonna study war no more
Ain’t gonna study war no more …

The earth shook. At first, I thought it was just my enthusiastic toe taping despite being in stocks. The crumbling brick scattering dust on my head, doors jumping from their hinges and chains snapping at wrist and ankle, clued me in. God was adding a big bass to our meager melody.

It never occurred to any of us to run. Besides, I had a feeling that someone else might need help laying down his sword by the riverside that night. As we waited for God’s encore, I wondered if the world was ready for a new genre in music. I’d call it Jail House Rock. That seemed appropriate.

* Down By The Riverside was originally written for the Boy Scouts
**Acts 16:17
*** Acts 16:18