People who Influenced my life: Roshanna

Matthew 2:1-13
“Herod was troubled and all Jerusalem with him . . .”–2:

She did it again.

Roshanna was never subtle. During morning worship in my inner-city Pittsburgh church Roshanna had an uncanny ability to find, sit next to, and irritate the most irascible congregants. She had this seventh sense.

And, my 75-plus interracial, intergenerational, rich and poor urban congregation had more than its share of characters.

This particular morning Roshanna was sitting next to ancient Mrs. Musick–a vintage grouch (although I love her dearly!!!). She always timed her sneak attack during the silent prayers of confession, while her victim was most contrite and vulnerable. Before the Assurance of Pardon was pronounced, poor Mrs. Musick was snagged.

At the end of the doxology–in celebration of the midpoint of our service–Roshanna deposited her used Bazooka bubble gum on Mrs. Musick’s open red-letter Bible. The awful mess was placed between “He” and “multitudes” in Matthew 5:1. Poor Mrs. Musick’s Bible would sport Bazooka bubble gum for generations to come.

There would be no peace this Sunday morning.

Mrs. Flanders, who never suffered in silence, accosted me at the back door. “Pastor, you have to do something about Roshanna.”

While ingesting lunch, I shamelessly transferred my frustration to my lay Christian education director (and mother of my four children), Honey, what are we going to do about Roshanna?”

Roshanna. She was a twelve-year old imp who grew up on the city streets. Beginning with two aunts, and an older sister, she was finally deposited with their harried grandmother. Every summer morning Roshanna was given a wrinkled dollar and told to disappear until bedtime. Often she stood forlornly in front of her house, hoping her grandmother would change her mind. But she never did.

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