A Silent Sermon…


It’s been over twenty years but I remember it as though I was still living it.  Two young women, both stubborn and immature in their thoughts and actions stood at an impasse.  Over dishes.  A simple sink of dishes.  Yes, I was one of the young women.

I was home all day- the other wasn’t.  It wasn’t my turn and I self-righteously felt put upon and irritated.  After all, I let her move into my apartment.  It was her turn.  She, on the other hand, was in the middle of grueling classes.  I was home all day.  Why couldn’t I just do the dishes this time?  (Why indeed?)

I don’t know what made me so ugly and thoughtless.  I wasn’t usually that nasty but I silently and consistently refused to wash them.  For at least three days, they sat in the kitchen sink stinking up the room and serving as a silent reminder to both of us just how juvenile we both were being.

I’ll never forget the sermon.  It was wordless.  Another friend knew of the ugliness and as I slept through another afternoon of exhausted early pregnancy, he came into the apartment when he should have been working on his own homework, and cheerfully washed every single dish, dried them, put them away, and scrubbed the kitchen.  I woke up just as he finished.  I saw the room and felt smug satisfaction that finally she had seen things my way.  Oh it hurts to admit that.  Then I saw him.  The silent preacher stepped back in the door after hanging up the damp kitchen towel on the back rail.  I was irritated.  Now not only had she gotten out of her responsibilities, but she’d made someone else shirk theirs to do hers.

At about that time, she came in.  She saw the clean kitchen, and hugged me (her first mistake).  She said something like, “I’m glad you decided to be reasonable.  I’ll do them tomorrow.”

I stormed out of the room.  Seconds later, a hand turned the knob and he stepped into my room.  He didn’t say a word but he looked at me.  Disappointed.  Shame filled my heart and I repented.

I don’t know if I ever told him thank you.  I wouldn’t know where to find him now if I could but I’m saying it now.  Thank you.  That little act of humility and charity has stayed with me for years.  Everytime I’m tempted to make someone else ‘do what is right’ by not stepping in and just doing it to relieve a burden, I remember him and I thank the Lord for his sermon.  It has been one of the most eloquent sermons of my life.

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