This is a poem written by James A. Autry from Life After Mississippi. One of my theology professors, Martha Moore-Keish read this to our theology class in seminary. Love, love, love.
Brother Jim Thompson came,
With overalls and a white shirt buttoned at the collar.
With a walking cane and a Bible
That had stood fifty years of pounding,
And with that old fire burning through his cataracts.
Didn't need no seminary
Always preached the Bible
and the Lord Jesus Charist
Crucified and buried and
raised from the dead.
Brother Hamer came
And Brother Ewart
And the three Walker boys,
They came through rain,
Wrestling the wheels of their out-of-country cars,
Sliding in ruts so deep the tail pipes dragged.
They parked under the trees
And along the road,
Picking their way along the high spots
Like children jumping puddles.
Into the church of their fathers,
The place they had all felt the call.
The old home church
Where thousands of hands had pressed
On the bowed heads of new preacher boys,
Of sun-reddened young men called by the Lord,
called from the cotton fields to preach the word.
They had felt the hands,
These old preachers,
Felt like blunt-fingered, work-hardened hands,
Felt them like a blessing,
Like an offering,
Like a burden.
Felt them at wedding and baptizings,
Felt them in the heat of a summer revival sermon,
In the agony of a baby's funeral,
In the desperate prayer against some killer disease,
In the frustrating visit with a mind gone senile.
And now the old preachers came to lay their hands
On the head of a new kind of preacher,
A preacher from the seminary,
A preacher who studied the Bible in Greek and Hebrew,
Who knew about religions they never heard of,
Who knew about computers
And memory banks full of sermons
And many other modern things.
A new kind of preacher.
A preacher who would still feel on her head
Like a commandment
From all the preachers and deacons who ever were.