Some members of the congregation
of First Baptist
Church of Columbia, SC
were in a very large vacant lot
. The Rev. Wendell Estep held a burlap sack
in his hands. Everybody was milling around, waiting for Wendell to speak.
“Brothers and sisters in Christ,” he began, “you may wonder what is in this bag, and why I have it here with me today.” He paused to open the sack. “What I have here are what I like to call 'Peace Rocks.'” Everyone looked around in befuddlement. Peace Rocks?
“Here’s what you do with Peace Rocks. You pick one out of the bag, and yell out something you don’t like about the world. Then you chuck that rock as far into this here lot as you can.”
That seemed like a good idea, everyone thought. We can vent our frustrations without harming anyone.
A small child gingerly approached the preacher and took a rock from the bag and said “I don’t like war!” He then threw the rock as far as his little arm would let him. Soon enough, other people started trying it out.
“I don’t like poverty!”
“I don’t like terrorism!”
But then it turned ugly.
“I don’t like single mothers!”
“I don’t like gays!”
“I don’t like …”
A few people tried to stop others from saying these things, claiming that they were actually offending some members of their very own congregation. But they paid no mind to those bleeding hearts. They just kept screaming and throwing.
Much later, the whole congregation sat in the sanctuary, listening to Wendell speak. Eventually he got around to the previous events.
“Remember that story where Jesus is presented with the prostitute and the mob demands justice?”
“We sure do, Reverend!”
“And I guess you remember how Jesus said 'Let he who is without sin cast the first stone'”
Everyone stopped. The meaning of it all was sinking in.
“Y’see,” Wendell continued, “I was gettin’ kinda tired of that story. I wanted to, y’know, jazz it up or something. Kinda bring it closer to home.”
The congregation just hung their heads.