He was dressed in ragged clothing, more patches than original cloth. His face was covered with the stubble of several days without shaving. He looked like he should be cold but he wasn’t shivering. In fact, he looked peaceful.
Tom saw the tramp out of the corner of his eye. He looked around to see if anyone was watching, then turned to cross the parking lot and avoid the man.
“How did the meeting go?” asked a voice.
Tom turned. It was the tramp.
“Fine. How did you know I was in a meeting?”
“You came from the office. The lights have been on in one room for some time. It’s after office hours. You were in a meeting.” He said it evenly, calmly.
“Did you get the organ?”
“Yes, I did.”
It wasn’t easy, was it?”
Tom looked at the tramp for a moment, he wasn’t wondering how the tramp knew what the meeting was about. Instead, he wondered why he didn’t wonder. “No,” he said. “It wasn’t easy.”
“Patty wanted the money for more materials for the children’s department. She made a strong case.”
“Yes, she did.”
“But she didn’t get the money.”
“No, she didn’t.”
“Alexander wanted you to buy an electronic keyboard rather than the pipe organ. It would have cost less and it could have been used by both the contemporary praise band and the traditional service.”
“True, but there’s nothing like singing the good old hymns to the accompaniment of a pipe organ. It was worth it.”
“The evangelism pastor wanted the money for outreach, didn’t he?”
“Yes, but he didn’t really need those materials. Individual contact will work well enough. You don’t need materials to introduce someone to Jesus.”
“Well, he didn’t get them either. Nellie wanted the money to give to the homeless shelter. But she didn’t get it.”
“Quite true. The organ was very important to me.”
“I wonder how that happened?” asked the tramp.
“I guess they all understood just how important good music is to this congregation.”
“But your reputation didn’t hurt.”
“I’ve served this church longer than any of those folks have been alive!”
“That’s very important to you, isn’t it?”
“Well, it should be! Christianity is all about service. Some of these young people don’t want to do any of the work around the church at all!”
“But you’re always there, moving chairs, cleaning, mowing the grass, whatever needs doing.”
“Yes, I have.” Tom looked at the tramp with pride. He truly had done all those things.
“And you’ve made sure everyone knows, haven’t you?”
Tom paused, surprised. “I never talk about my service. If others notice, that’s their affair.”
“But you make sure they see you, don’t you?”
“I don’t do that!”
“Yet when you saw me you looked around before you headed for the other side of the parking lot. You didn’t want to be seen avoiding me. But when you were sure nobody would see, you turned away from me.”
Tom stopped and just looked. He really had done that. How had the tramp known?
“Well,” continued the tramp, “I hope the organ music truly blesses someone.”
Tom turned to away. It wasn’t fair. He was a servant. Had been for years. The organ was important. It was a good thing!
He turned back to argue, but the tramp was gone. Tom was surprised. He would never have expected someone in the tramp’s condition could move that fast.
Whenever you did something for one of the least of my brothers or sisters, you did it for me. — Matthew 25:40
But as for you, when you do your charitable acts, don’t let yourleft hand know what your right hand is doing. — Matthew 6:3
Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests, but the son of man doesn’t have anywhere to lay his head.” — Matthew 8:20
[This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to any persons in the real wold is purely coincidental. Copyright © 2009, Henry Neufeld]