Bro. Hodges’ Best Sermon
You’ll enjoy the Audio Podcast of this story.
The preacher stood in the middle of the muddy red clay road staring at the problem straight ahead. It was a long way from his pulpit, and so he had no idea he was going to preach “his best sermon” right here in a few minutes.
This preacher standing in the middle of the road was Kenneth Hodges, my pastor as a teenager. He was a tall and lanky man—skinny with a large Adam’s apple, long nose, and unruly black hair. To me he looked like a character from a Norman Rockwell painting.
He was also the most down-to-earth pastor I’ve ever known—and that is why everyone in Dry Creek loved him. He was a “what you see is what you get” kind of person.
However, his physical appearance wasn’t what made him special—it was his loving spirit and kindness toward everyone. He became our pastor in the early 1970s and soon after that became “the pastor” to everyone in the community—whether they were churchgoers or not. He had a great ability in connecting with all types of people and that is why he was revered by so many.
Bro. Hodges could preach a good sermon. . . . However, what he did best was “pastor.” He cared about people and it showed daily in dozens of kind acts. I’ve always believed the following story of kindness was his “best sermon”:
On the Monday of this story, Bro. Hodges dressed up in his best suit. I can still see it—a white leisure suit with blue stitching and buttons and white patent-leather shoes. I always told him he looked like the Easter bunny when he wore it. He was going “into town” to a meeting at the Baptist Associational office, but first he planned on dropping by the home of an elderly congregation member. To do this he bypassed off the highway onto Joe Gray Road.
Country people can understand what I’m saying here—there is nothing worse than a red clay road after a rain in the winter months. Joe Gray Road was that type of road. It was a full time job just keeping his old Buick between the ditches. Navigating around a slick curve, Bro. Hodges came upon a problem in the road.
One of the local farmers stood in the road trying to round up three horses that had broken through the fence. The horses were definitely winning. If you’ve ever tried to re-fence animals after they’ve escape from confinement, you can picture the futility and frustration of this farmer.
Bro. Hodges stopped his vehicle. I’m not sure what he thought—but I know what I’d have thought—There is no way I’m going to get all muddy in my suit.
However, that’s just what he did. He got out, joined the rodeo, and helped get the horses back behind the fence. After the chore was finished, the suit was no longer white. In fact, it and the shoes were caked with red mud and ruined—never to be worn again.
Bro. Hodges didn’t tell this story to anyone—he didn’t have to. The farmer, not a church-going man, told it at that clearinghouse of rural information—the post office.
Everyone who heard the story in Dry Creek told it to someone else. The story of the Baptist preacher helping to round up the horses was known by everyone in a few days. It’s true that bad news travels fast, but good news also travels pretty well.
I’ll always believe it was his best sermon at Dry Creek Baptist Church. It was a sermon preached in love and with willing hands and feet—a sermon that lives on in my heart and mind. It’s the type of story that bears repeating. So pass it on.
Kenneth Hodges was my pastor during the most formative years of my life.
Honestly, I cannot remember one specific sermon her preached from the pulpit. However, the sermon on the muddy road lives on—as it should.
A sermon preached on a muddy country road.
Brother Hodges’ best sermon.
Audio Podcast of Bro. Hodges’ Best Sermon read by the author.
A few years after the rodeo on Joe Gray Road, Bro. Hodges died in an accident in Dry Creek. His death occurred as he was doing what he did best—helping others. He is still remembered and loved by those of us who knew him.
“Greater love hath no man than this that a man lay down his life for his friends.”