A middle-aged man in biblical clothes stands behind the pulpit, using
it as though it were the check-in desk at an inn. His name is Nahum, and
he is the proprietor. He is going over some paperwork, when he senses
the congregation and looks up.
First it was my donkey.
That was first. I remember because it was the morning after
Sabbath. (short pause) My name’s Nahum [pronounced NAH-hoom]
by the way.
I had used my donkey, Becky—her name is Rebecca, but I call her
Becky—anyway I had used her to haul a couple of jugs of water back
from the well, and when I came back out to take care of Becky, there
were these two guys who told me that their boss needed to use my
donkey. For some reason I said okay, and they took her.
So, first it was my donkey.
Then, a couple of days later, a couple of other guys found me—hauling
more water with Becky—and asked if they could rent my upstairs room
Thursday night to celebrate the Passover, and could I cater it for
them. Well, I can hardly ever get anyone to rent that place—it’s
kind of drafty—so, a big group of a dozen or so business folks?
Yeah, sure. You betcha. Just tell Nahum what you need.
So, second it was my upstairs room.
All fine and dandy. I’m finally going to get a little caught up
on my bills—I’ve got this friend who’s been ready to
throw me in jail, just because I lost a piddling little bet to him and
haven’t been able to pay him off yet—though I know he hasn’t
paid back the loan from his boss that comes close to being about what
he makes in a year.
As I said, all fine and dandy. I had ordered the lamb and the
bitter herbs and was getting ready to bake the unleavened bread. We’d
knocked the dust off the couches upstairs. Biggest night these rooms
have seen in ages—
And then two thirds of my staff up and quits.
Okay, okay, so I only had the three—but still, going from three
waiters to one doesn’t make for the smoothest sailing in the world.
Not that I’ve ever gone sailing, but, you know, it’s a metaphor.
Or something like that.
So, what was I going to do? Big group coming in for Passover,
hardly any staff on duty.
Luckily my cousin Saul, who’s a businessman from Jericho, stopped
by and wanted the family discount for one of the rooms.
I drafted him to be another waiter. He’s a little clumsy and isn’t
really used to doing real work, but it was an emergency, right,
so what are you going to do?
He’s a good guy, and he tries, but he’d never make it as a
professional waiter. (very brief pause) Well, he drops things
for a start, and it’s a good thing this was Passover, because, I
swear, he was getting the orders mixed up, even though everyone was
having the same meal.
But I couldn’t have done it without him.
Big problem is that Saul has this focus problem. "Take the
food in, bring the dirty dishes back out," that’s what I told
him. (pause) He keeps trying to give me reports on what they’re
talking about. Some retirement plan from what I could make out, but
Saul’s information was kind of spotty at best. Apparently their
chief financial officer was pretty upset about it, because he took off
before the entree was even served.
And I’ll tell you another thing—It’s a good thing there weren’t
any Pharisees around, because that group took some real liberties with
the Passover I was taught when I was a kid.
He takes a moment and then becomes more subdued and
At one point, after they had eaten, I slipped into the room with a
basin and realized that everything had gone quiet, and the guy who
seemed to be in charge had stood up and was moving back and forth,
concentrating, trying to figure something out. Then he looked up and
saw me. He motioned me over and asked if he could take the basin. I
nodded, and he asked if he could have some water. I got the jug I had
brought on Becky from the well and handed it to him. He thanked me and
poured it into the basin. While I stepped back into the shadows, he
took off his robe, knelt down by one of his group. And began to wash
the man’s feet.
Then he moved on to the next one and washed his feet. And then the
next. And the next. He made his way around the entire room, kneeling
down and washing their feet. Until he finally came to this one pretty
big guy, who put up something of a fuss, not wanting the boss to
degrade himself like that, saying he wasn’t going to have his feet
washed. His boss looked at him gently, shook his head, and told him if
the big guy didn’t let the boss wash his feet, the big guy couldn’t
be part of whatever he wanted to be part of.
Well, then the big guy went overboard the other way, telling his
boss to wash his hands and face, too. His boss just kind of shook his
head, then motioned me over. I reached for the water, but he guided me
to sit, and when I did, he undid my sandals and started washing my
feet. (He may start going through the actions.) "Do you
understand? You call me Lord, and Master. Okay, if I have
washed your feet, what should you do? The servant is not
greater than the master." Then he dried my feet. "The
greatest among you will be the servant of all."
They stayed kind of late, and we’re just now getting things
cleaned up and packed away.
Their boss, though? I think he might go places. He had a real nice
kind of quiet charm, you know? The kind of guy who’d really go to
bat for you.
He shuffles his papers together, nods to us and leaves.