It's the Law
May blankets First Baptist Church in calm strange pleasantry. It is in the parking lot and in how the people park so far apart and are so quiet. For the most part, many if not all are unsure about this Sunday.
" Such a sad, sad feeling that morning, " Scott goes on describing to his fellow inmates. " And I could sense it as I greeted them one by one."
It was the month of May, a government shut down has been ordered on all public gatherings including places of worship. Pastor Scott Emerson is defiant as a spiritual leader. He smiles through his mask and nods and waves to all who walk in to First Baptist. Everyone looks nice and are dressed in colorful rich clothes. Scott feels support in the numbers showing up little by little.
" Or so it began that way. I could see the sadness in every face and set of eyes. They looked nice, but they were like lost, and I could not be lost but had to be strong for them." Scott looked into the space of the holding cell while reaching for those words. He noticed not the reverberations he gave to the inmates. " So I prepared a sufficient sermon for that day on the virus. A sermon just long enough planning to not keep everyone there too long like on most Sundays. I didn't want to prolong things, exhaust things. Not cater, no. Just understand how my congregants were feeling."
Pastor Scott Emerson welcomed all his friends and followers to the service that morning. It would almost be noon. The time was right. Scott opened with a short prayer.
" Heavenly Father, thank You in your Mercy and wisdom You have brought all of us here to Your house of prayer to offer You our prayers and praises, We praise and We Bless You in Jesus' Name, Amen."
The 'Amens' resounded from the people like cheering. Scott offered permission to everyone to sit down and began his short sermon.
" I was ready to," Scott pauses then raises his head some. " It was then I looked to the back of the church."
Pastor Scott was all set to open on how God has providence, a providence greater than any 'government shutdown'. He sees the two policemen entering the back entrance. They walk to the right of the back doors and one folds his hands down. The other, a taller man raises his arm and waves Pastor Scott to the back.
" Yes they were rather discreet at first." Scott widens a loosening smile, his visit from the police now rooting a connection between himself and his fellow inmates. " I paused for a few seconds debating about what to do about this. At the time a number of answers were racing in my mind so I finally...."
Pastor Scott raises high his hand as a halting signal to his congregation. A moment to slowly close his eyes, Scott also smiles here before stepping down from the altar. Knowing he best avoid giving any distress to his followers, Pastor Scott makes the announcement through his headset: " Everyone, everyone, I did call you all here to worship the Lord with me. Well..." 'I remember shaking my head with this dopey smile then pulling off my headset. One of my aids, my good friend Kevin ran up and took the headset from me.' Pastor Scott's cell mates focus their attention more to his telling.
' I wanted to cry in front of my congregation, I really wanted to just...break down, but no way!' Pastor Scott illustrates how he next walked down from the altar and stage at First Baptist before quietly bowing his head as he began to pass the first row of seats and troubled eyes. 'They were troubled, their heads were nodding too. So, I walked by all the seated rows. In my mind I debated raising my hands up at that point so I did still feeling....well, just humiliated. Like I stated a minute ago, they were discreet at first."
" I think you did like a lot of us do," spoke the more intimidating of the other three inmates, " we all make it more than it has to be when we're cuffed, when we're nailed. Sometimes maybe not?"
" I think he did the right thing." a second of the three other inmates said in objection. " Those two cops were going to arrest him on the spot. What? Were you thinking he should have waited 'til his service was done to turn himself in?" Pastor Scott looked to his right at the bigger one, the big inmate who gave him room and the inmate shook his head with a widening smile. Scott had not wanted his story to become fodder for a dispute between two friends if they were still friends at this moment.
At First Baptist, the congregation was administered by Kevin, Pastor Scott's aid who then stepped in to lead the people out of the church. The people filed out with stern faces and stony hearts watching with their eyes looking on ahead as the two policemen lead Pastor Scott with his hands bound behind him into a police car. Sure there were ruminations of radical actions to take into effect among the people at least so until the two policemen had revealed to everyone that additional police cars had been notified.
The reason being that strange Sunday in May was due to the fact that these other policemen had been called to sign off on fines with which to hand out to everyone who showed up for the service which was in fact in violation.
Pastor Scott pondered what had happened to his congregants, to Kevin, to his friends as he was fingerprinted, photographed, while handing over his car keys, wallet, and the money in his pocket. So what if he needed to be bailed out, what of the people in his church?
" They were each fined three hundred dollars." Kevin told Pastor Scott by phone that day Scott was driven to his home.
" Do you know how these families are handling these fines? I feel like it's really, like I'm to blame...."
" If you feel that way Scott, pray about it, but don't get so down, bro. " Kevin offered to pray with Pastor Scott and they prayed for a good four minutes before Kevin told Scott he had to go.
Pastor Scott Emerson, out of jail, back at his home with a electronic clamp around the neck of his foot tries to go to sleep that night. He spends a little time on his computer and notices a one Father Eduardo, a Catholic priest who despite his own possible infirmaries from the virus, is celebrating the Mass daily on the internet.