Vocative God

As my memoir Accidental Preacher comes out in print, I want to share a series of reflections with you. This unexpected calling to preach continues to be an adventure, one I am thankful for and overwhelmed with every day.


At the Northside UMC Wednesday morning prayer breakfast (God and a sausage biscuit at an ungodly hour), I piously asked the assembled laity, hoping to impress them with the earnestness of my pastoral care, “Pray for Mary. Johnny was booked last night. DUI. I’m going to see what I can do to get him out. Mary’s had a time with that boy.”

“How much you know about alcoholism?” said one of the men, unimpressed by my ministry.

“Where you going to get the money for bail?” asked another. “We’ll go with you. Take this off the prayer list. We can handle it.”

The three of us walked into the bowels of the jail, where we saw a frightened youth, huddled in the corner of a cell, weeping.

“Son, how long have you had a problem with alcohol?” one of the men asked through the bars.

“Uh, I wouldn’t say I have ‘a problem,’ ” Johnny replied.

“Let me rephrase that. How long have you been lying about your problem with alcohol? Son, I’ve learned a lot about booze the hard way. Had that monkey on my back since I was in the army. I can show you the way out.”

“We’re springing you,” said another, who was a lawyer. “And you come home with me. Our kids are out of the house. Your mama’s got enough on her already. I’d love to have somebody to watch Clemson football with.”

A vocative God showing off.

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