“If you could describe the sermon in one word, what would it be?”
“Frightening,” I immediately spurt out, so quick to offer up my distaste without considering the feelings of others. So, he looks at me in slight shock.
“Frightening because of…the overabundance of Christ’s love?” He laughs at his own remark. “Really, though, you mean in danger, right?”
“Not in immediate danger, no,” I reply. “I appreciate the majority of the message, it’s just the extraneous details that bother me.”
“Like…like the presentation. The atmosphere. I don’t see God’s love in that, I see money. I see the high-definition cameras and the perfect lighting and the colorful sets and the pastor’s wife’s face completely unblemished, and that just scares me.”
“Well, you know, all that fancy get-up isn’t a true replacement for God’s love. It’s just there to reach more people. That’s the mission.”
“Right, and. Well. I get that, I mean, I’m not trying to target specific people here. I just think of Jesus Christ unwashed in the sand. My mental image consists of him down on the floor looking up, not up on the stage looking down. And flipping over tables, sometimes.”
My mention of violent anger makes him wince for a half-second. He doesn’t think I’d do anything, but he just met me and isn’t quite sure.
“Okay, well, I thank you for your honest input. Here, we have this survey you can fill out…” and he takes a little pamphlet from the little plastic container on the large vendor’s table.
“Uh, yeah, man, no problem.” I click open the church-branded pen.
She gives a little wave.
“Hey, I didn’t know you started coming here.” I give a polite nod in reply.
“Yeah, I figured I’d stop by and try it out.” My words are made to be warm, though I keep a cold stare. Might as well practice what I preach.
“Cool, cool. So how’s life?”
“It’s been alright. Still here, worked some menial tasks, and decided to go back to school. I guess things are okay.” It’s an honest answer. The act of forgiveness has occurred, but almost exclusively in my mind, years ago. I find no reason to jump from my chair and embrace.
“Oh, neat! So…hmm…”
“Well, I hope you had a good time! I’ve been coming to this place for years. You really get positive feelings from it, like they really care, you know? What did you get out of it?” I won’t be quite as honest this time.
“It was…good. I don’t have much of a relationship with the place yet, so I can’t say for sure. But yeah, it’s definitely interesting.” She gives a little smile, but not one especially endearing, nor forced. The smile kind enough to get by. All she has to offer is the sweetness of an apple. Enough flavor to classify it as a fruit, and not enough to make it a favorite.
“I’m glad you had a good time.” And she whips her head around and her hair follows and she looks on at her friends standing near the door. “Maybe I’ll catch you later sometime. Nice seeing you again.”
“Nice seeing you again.”
I still don’t know who should’ve apologized more.