What do you say when you come to Cowtown from San Antonio and someone calls you an egg-suckin’ dog?
“Amen!” Fayerene Smith said.
Smith was among the more than 250 folks gathered last week in Will Rogers Auditorium for Cowboy Church at the Fort Worth Stock Show. Pastor Russ Weaver, who normally leads the flock at Shepherd’s Valley Cowboy Church in Alvarado, preached a sermon built on the story of Peter’s three denials of Christ. Woven into the lesson were facets of farm and ranch life that most of the congregants shared.
Peter, Weaver said, was sure he would be a hero for Jesus. But he had to face the truth that he was a chicken (appropriately heralded by a crowing rooster) when people confronted and threatened him.
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Then, Weaver likened the apostle to an egg-sucking dog — one that steals and eats eggs from hen’s nests before they can be gathered. The evidence of sin is splashed all over the dog’s lips. Behavior like that can’t be corrected, Weaver said as heads nodded knowingly. The dog that has egg on its face can no longer be trusted on the farm.
“Sin has infected all of us,” Weaver said. “We’re all egg-suckin’ dogs, and nothing is hidden from God.”
The church has been a fixture fore more than 15 years at the Stock Show and will meet again at 10 a.m. Sunday in Will Rogers Auditorium. Jeans and boots are the preferred dress.
Part of cowboy culture
Smith said she appreciated a metaphor that reflects western and agricultural heritage and culture that she has loved for more than six decades.
“We have grandchildren showing cattle today,” said Smith, who helps coordinate similar services at the San Antonio Stock Show. Attending Cowboy Church when she and her grandkids are at the Stock Show on a Sunday “is part of what we do.”
A member of Shepherd’s Valley, Tex Kraehemann of Rendon, said that folks who identify with cowboy culture are closer to God from the get-go.
“There’s a song they sing that says they can see God in the face of a newborn calf,” said Kraehemann, a native of Switzerland who moved to Texas in 1993. “They see him everywhere in nature.”
And while he isn’t fooling himself that all cowboys are believers, Kraehemann said he never has met a cowboy atheist.
“If they come in here atheist, they won’t leave that way if I can help it,” he said.
‘An evangelical service’
That idea doesn’t translate to a lot of proselytizing at the Stock Show; but Cowboy Church at FWSSR is “more of an evangelistic service,” said Dusty Deaton of Burleson, the praise team co-leader. “We’re reaching into the public, rather than just ministering to our church.”
Deaton explained that, while as many as 50 members of the Alvarado church might be in the Will Rogers audience, each Stock Show service may be the one chance Shepherd’s Valley has to interact with the rest of those souls.
“There may be someone here who’s dealing with issues they don’t even admit they have,” he said. “They could receive a message that changes the rest of their lives.”
Weaver had good news for all of the two-legged egg-suckin’ dogs, and he delivered it in the same folksy tone as the rest of the sermon.
“God will take a washrag to that egg on your face,” he said.