By staff writer Nathan DeGraaf
May 16, 2007
The guest preacher stands at the pulpit. He wears no robe. Instead, he is donned in a beaten Army Flak jacket, a pair of ripped jeans, and a beer stained t-shirt. The congregation, now settled and recently finished singing the words from their leather bound books, look on with collectively agape mouths.
“Members of the congregation,” the guest speaker slurs his words, “I thank you for gathering today to celebrate the life of Christ. I only hope that I can help you all on your quest to be better Christians. And I want to start by telling you a little bit about myself.”
The guest preacher sighs, reaches into his coat pocket, removes a silver flask, and takes a swig.
“I am a war veteran,” he continues. “It doesn’t matter which war. They are pretty much all the fucking sameanyway.”
The congregation collectively gasps, probably because a cussword has made such a sudden and unwanted appearance in church.
“I don’t know that it matters why I drink, but I do know that I’m drinking now.”
“And I have killed people,” he continues. “I have killed people who tried to kill me. And I have killed people who did not. I have killed women and children. Their deaths were accidental and incidental, but I’m sure it didn’t change their opinions on the subject. Dying is dying. And people, as a rule, are generally predisposed to hating the concept. Can’t blame them for that one, really.”
The guest preacher takes another swig from his flask, and, while doing so, hears the congregation murmuring unto themselves. Clearly, they are not liking this one bit, but if the guest preacher cares of their mumbled opinions, he does not let on.
“And I’m a drunk,” he continues. “Some say that I should blame my drinking on the deaths I’ve experienced, or that I drink to escape the realities of a hard life. But I know that’s bullshit. I don’t know why I drink. And I don’t know that it matters why I drink, but I do know that I’m drinking now. And if I’m not drunk yet, I will be soon.
“And if you… members of the congregation, feel that you should hate me because I am a drunk and a killer, and because I cussed in church… If you hate me for my behavior and for my appearance, and for my attitude, then you are not good Christians, and you can all go to hell for all I care.
“I’m not saying that you will go to hell, I’m just saying that you can go there for all I give a fuck.”
At this point, some members of the congregation get up to leave. Others begin to voice their opinions. Their collective murmurings and muffled rumblings give way to easily understood shouts of discouragement. The guest preacher isn’t finished, though. And he continues, undaunted.
“And I want you all to know that I love you. Maybe it’s because I’m drunk, or maybe it’s because I really care, but the end result is the same. I love you for thinking that you are better than me. And I was more than happy to take a few bullets for all you judgmental shitheads. You’re the best, and I mean that.
“Now, if you’ll excuse me, the bars are finally opening up, and I am out of whiskey. Pretty soon, y’all will get to sing some more hymns, and talk about the teachings of Jesus. And that’s great and all that. It really is.
“And when your pastor gets up to tell you about the teachings of Christ, and about the importance of loving one another, I want you to understand that I’m one of the people you’re supposed to love.
“And if you come on up to O’Brien’s Pub after the sermon, I sure wouldn’t mind if you bought me a drink.
“Thanks be to God.”
And the guest preacher stumbled off the stage and out of their lives forever.
The church’s head pastor, an old man named Jeremy, lost his job as a result of the guest preacher’s sermon. Which indicates, quite obviously, that the guest preacher’s message, as a result of its obscene candor, did not register with many members of the congregation.
But a young kid heard the sermon, collected its meaning, and lives by it everyday.