By the Waters of Babylon –Ps 137:1
There’s a scene in the classic 1962 film, To Kill a Mockingbird, when Atticus Finch, the defense attorney played by Gregory Peck, gets word that a mob is planning to storm the jail the night before the trial. The plan is to lynch Atticus’s client, a black falsely accused of lynching a white woman. Atticus Finch calmly takes a floor lamp from his living room, goes down to the jail, hauls a chair from the sheriff’s office out onto the porch of the jailhouse, and sets himself up there for the night.
When the mob arrives, the members of the mob are first taken aback by the presence of this gentlemanly figure in a white business suit, calmly reading his book. When they start to threaten him, his young daughter, Scout, (who has followed her father there without his knowledge) begins to call out the names of every man in the hooded mob. She knows most of them, and one of them is the father of one of Scout’s playmates. It turns out, even angry, these mad bigots are susceptible to embarrassment and to being singled out, individually, by a child. Their cowardly anonymity is gone, so they return to their own homes.
If Scout hadn’t shown up when she did, there’s no telling what might have happened to her father and his client. The mob carried neither cross nor nails, but they had something very similar to crucifixion on their minds!
Sometimes, faith is not so much a labor, but a risk.