Music & Choirs
Shoes in Church
By Mark Jonkman, Director of Music
I showered and shaved, adjusted my tie, and sat in a pew just in time. Bowing my head in prayer, I saw the shoe of the man next to me touching my own. I sighed. With plenty of room on either side I thought, 'Why must our soles touch?' It bothered me, but it didn't seem to bother him much.
A prayer began: 'Our Fatherí I thought, 'This man has no pride. The shoes are dusty, worn, scratched, and have holes on the side!' 'Thank You for blessings,' the prayer went on. The shoe man said a quiet 'Amen.' I tried to focus on the prayer but my thoughts were on his shoes. Aren't we supposed to look our best when walking through that door?
Then the prayer ended and the songs of praise began. The shoe manís voice lifted the rafters and his hands were raised high. The Lord could surely hear the shoe man's voice from the sky. What I threw in to the offering plate was steep. I watched the shoe man reach into his pockets, then I heard a soft 'clink' as when silver hits tin. Tears fell from the shoe manís eyes during the sermon.
At the end of the service, as our custom, we greet new visitors and show them all good cheer. I felt moved somehow and wanted to meet the shoe man. So after the closing prayer, I reached over and shook his hand. He was old, his skin was dark, and his hair was truly a mess, but I thanked him for coming for being our guest. He said, 'my name is Charlie. I'm glad to meet you, my friend.' There were tears in his eyes but he had a large, wide grin.
'Let me explain,' he said wiping tears from his eyes. 'I've been coming here for months and you're the first to say 'Hi.'' 'I know that my appearance is not like all the rest, but I really do try to always look my best. I clean and polish my shoes before my very long walk, but by the time I get here they're dirty and dusty, like chalk.' My heart filled with pain and I swallowed to hide my tears. As he continued to apologize for daring to sit so near he said, 'When I get here I know I must look a sight, but I thought if I could touch you then maybe our souls might unite.'
I was silent for a moment knowing whatever was said would pale in comparison. I spoke from my heart, not my head. 'Oh, you've touched me,' I said...íand taught me, in part that the best of any man is what is found in his heart.' The rest, I thought, this shoe man will never know. Like just how thankful I really am that his dirty old shoe touched my soul.
Chancel Choir - Anthems for the year are posted on the choirís website at
Recordings of music performances are available on the Music website at: