Hey, everyone, and welcome back to The Church Dog! I'm hoping to do as much as I can before I get my gallbladder surgery tomorrow morning, and probably Halloween too.
As usual, I hope you like this chapter and the story in total. Please let me know if there's anything wrong with this chapter so I can fix it. I also appreciate some new chapter ideas and whatnot (and I would especially appreciate any help from Christian readers). Finally, constructive criticism is always welcome as long as you're polite about it.
Uploading Date: October 25, 2017
Immediately, he backed away from the tub and started to growl. He did not like fighting much, but he knew he had to defend himself sooner or later. As he continued to growl, he heard a gentle voice echoing in the room along with a tongue clicking.
"Here, boy. You must be thirsty."
Lupo stopped growling. A male human was standing in the doorway, holding a bowl of water. He was wearing a brown suit covered by a white robe, and he had a gentle smile on his face as he offered the bowl to Lupo.
"Here," said the man, putting the bowl slowly to the floor. "Go ahead, it won't hurt you. I am not sure what happens when animals drink the holy water anyway."
So Lupo crossed the room quickly and made it to the bowl, lapping up the water. It tasted fresh and cool, like the streams in the mountains. When he finished drinking, he looked up and saw a necklace of sorts on the man's neck, ending with a wooden something. It looked like what was on top of the spire outside the church.
"Are you looking at the cross necklace?" he asked. "I usually wear this during worship, but I also like wearing it anytime. It helps me feel a little closer to God."
God? Lupo was sure he had heard the name somewhere before. He heard humans say the name out of frustration, but other than that, he hadn't heard of the actual name.
"He is the creator of this world," the preacher said, seeing the baffled look on Lupo's face. He lifted his eyes to the painting above their heads, saying, "For God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not die but have eternal life."
Gave his only Son? Lupo thought, following his gaze. His next thought had no malice, but he did wonder, What kind of father does that?
The preacher chuckled as Lupo tilted his head to one side. "You want to learn more, do you? I'm rather surprised animals are interested in that. God had made man and animals separately," he said. "Let me get you something to eat; you must be famished. I think the congregation has had sandwiches after worship."
Lupo sat obediently and waited while the preacher left the room. When he came back two minutes later, he had gotten a plate of triangular sandwiches, still fresh. Taking a few deep sniffs, Lupo scented that the meat in them consisted of ham and turkey lunch meat. The preacher tossed a sandwich, while saying a prayer, to Lupo, and he snapped it up eagerly.
When Lupo was full from two more sandwiches, the preacher started talking to him, as if he was talking to a child eager to learn. He was talking about how God made the world and how sin had entered the world, how famous people in the Bible became the stuff of legend because of good deeds...or perhaps it was truth? He had also talked about the lessons learned in the Bible, passed down for many years.
That gave Lupo an idea. He saw the paper plate that fell to the floor and walked over to a trash can, dropping it inside. With that good deed done, he looked back at the preacher, wagging his tail.
"I know you want to be a good dog and help," said the preacher with a chuckle, giving Lupo a pat on the head. "But good deeds don't always guarentee entry into Heaven. Having a strong faith in God and accepting Jesus Christ into your life is what can save you."
Really? I do want to learn more, thought Lupo.
He listened to some more of the preacher's words. He heard about how the human they called Jesus Christ taught many wonderful things to other humans, the miracles he performed and the lessons he taught. Lupo felt his heart suddenly ache with sadness when he heard about how he died to save all people from their sins, but he was happy when the man rose from the dead three days later. Finally, he heard about how humans spread the words of Christ to many humans for over a thousand years.
"Looks like you really like learning this," the preacher said, smiling as he finished. He gave Lupo several pats on the head and said, "Sadly, I believe it's time for you to go; I have a meeting tonight with some of the congregation. But first..."
He reached over behind the podium and brought out a tray. Lupo reared up slightly on his hind legs to see what they were: necklaces. They were like collars but worn mainly by humans. When he saw the little crosses on these necklaces, Lupo felt his tail wag; that was the same kind of cross he saw on the church, and this preacher was going to give him one.
"We would usually make these cross necklaces for the children that attend church," the preacher said, taking one necklace out of the tray. "But I never really thought that dogs could wear these. Would you like one?"
Lupo held still as long as he could, trying not to move a muscle. Then the preacher gently fitted it over his head and down to his neck. As the cross on the necklace thudded against his chest, Lupo felt his tail wag even faster than before out of pure joy. He barked a few times and ran towards the door, only looking back over his shoulder at the preacher.
"Go in peace, boy, and serve the Lord!" he called after Lupo, waving an arm in farewell. "May God watch over you on the streets!"
Lupo barked in his own language "Thanks for the water and the food!" before he ran off.
It was the late afternoon when Lupo left the church, the day having become shorter as fall went on. As he walked down the road, he started thinking over what the human preacher had told him. The more the preacher talked about this Christianity, the more it started making sense to him. This Jesus Christ had done a lot of good for people, and it made Lupo feel good about doing good.
Maybe that's my purpose, he realized as he got near the main street. That's what I can do with my life. I can be a dog preacher of sorts, teaching other dogs and cats about what I've learned.
That was what Lupo decided to do...what he wanted to do now. He knew that not all dogs would be eager to hear him, but he could still teach them. He could teach Christianity to every cat and dog in town.
"Lupo! Never thought you'd make it out!"
With a flick of an ear, Lupo looked up. Rex was watching him from the windowsill of a gift shop, tail tip twitching with amusement.
"You want the good news or the bad news first?" asked Lupo.
Rex shrugged. "I guess the bad news first. Better to get it out of the way," he replied. But Lupo was sure he wanted to hear the bad news so that he could gloat about winning the bet.
Lupo sat down. "The bad news is that a human caught me in the church before I could drink the holy water."
"Really?" asked Rex, amber eyes wide. His grin grew wide as he purred, "Ha! So that means I can keep calling you a chicken dog, huh?"
"Yeah, but he didn't chase me away. That's the good news." Reaching up until his paws rested on the windowsill, he said, "He actually gave me some other water to drink and sandwiches to eat."
Rex leaned over and sniffed Lupo's muzzle twice. "Yeah, I can smell the ham and turkey on your breath," he said. "I got three questions for you: why didn't you save me any, where'd you get that necklace, and why on earth would he wanna do that?"
Lupo chuckled. "Sorry, I thought you'd have eaten something by now," he said, wagging his tail. "And I don't know...I guess he wanted someone to talk about his religion. It's called Christianity."
"You mean that mumbo-jumbo about a dead guy watching over us?" asked Rex, in an unbelieving but not unkind tone. "My sister always said that it was mumbo-jumbo."
Lupo got back down. "I don't think it's mumbo-jumbo. It started making sense, and it actually made me feel...I can't find the word for it."
"Inspired?" Rex asked with a smirk.
"Yeah. that." As Lupo felt the cross on the necklace bump against his chest, he added, "And the preacher gave me this as a present of sorts."
Rex looked down at the cross necklace before jumping from the windowsill to the grass. "Okay, I can believe that," he said. "And if you feel like this is gonna work, what're you gonna do about it?"
"You know how cats have taken turns talking about the 'grand old days', right?" Lupo asked. "Well, cats might not be eager to learn Christianity...no offense, Rex."
"None taken," replied Rex. "But what you're saying is that you wanna talk to the dogs about Christianity, right?"
Lupo wagged his tail as he replied, "That's the idea. Hearing that preacher talking about this Jesus person made me feel pretty good, and it could help feel others feel good too. And you don't have to help me if you don't want to."
Rex stopped to stretch before looking up at Lupo. "Hey, you're my best friend," he said. "If that's what you wanna do, then I'm gonna help you out...even if it wipes out all five of my remaining lives."
This made Lupo laugh along with him. And with that said and done, the two friends went to find scraps to eat.
To be continued...