Downtown there was a bakery. It was an unassuming place. Red bricks, nice sign out front, people tended to walk by it without even knowing it was there. The owner was a young man who seemed to run the place all on his own. Nobody could quite remember his name or say where he lived for sure, but when folks saw him around town he would always tip his hat and say hello. He didn’t have a website, he didn’t even have a number listed in the local yellow pages, it was just the man and his bakery.
One wintry Sunday morning, a piece of news flew through the town like a snowflake in a blizzard. Some years ago, a local boy had been sent away to the state prison. A drug addict, he had attempted to rob a local restaurant in order to get some money for his habit. He was convicted and sent away, and the townsfolk shook their heads and wondered where he had gone wrong.
Well the scuttlebutt in town that Sunday morning was that this young man had just gotten married! A woman that had been visiting him in jail had grown fond of him, and they had just tied the knot at the prison. The source was reliable, as the warden lived down the street with all the sycamores, and went to the church with the big stained glass windows. The warden had said that it was just a small ceremony, but that the bride and groom had a huge cake that they shared with the warden and other prison staff. The warden asked the bride where the cake came from, and she indicated the man sitting by himself in the back row at the prison chapel. It was the man who owned the little red bakery. She said he had donated the cake because they could not pay.
Needless to say, folks took a little bit more notice of the man and his little bakery.
Winter turned to spring, and the snow covered ground was replaced by blooming flowers of every color and size. News photographers came from the city and took beautiful pictures of the vibrant, kaleidoscopic gardens in front of each of the town’s churches. Both pastor and parishioner touted their beautiful spring setting.
Except not all was well at the tiny church with the white steeple. Last year one of young women who attended there off and on was arrested for prostitution. She served a little time, and then was released on parole, but when she got out, she discovered that she was pregnant. To everyone in the town’s shame, she had gone into the city and had an abortion.
Now she was getting married! No church would take her, not even that liberal church that met in the strip mall. She had her ceremony down at the rec center, and just a few were invited. However the man with little red bakery was seen delivering another huge, gorgeous cake so large that he had to enlist some of the rec center staff to help him carry it.
Now folks really noticed the man with his little red bakery.
Spring turned to summer and the beautiful flowers gave way to perfect beds of grass at the big park for the children to play on. Some played baseball, others fed ducks in the stream that flowed through the big park, others just ran back and forth in pure joy at the sense of freedom and the smell of the freshly cut grass.
Except that all was not well at the big park. In the center of the park was a large gazebo that had been donated years before by the members of the all the local churches. Outside this gazebo was a justice of the peace from the county, and he was conducting a wedding, a wedding between two men. The townsfolk looked on in amazement. How was this happening in their town? Had anybody asked around? Who allowed this to take place?
A few people jeered at the ceremony, but most were respectful. Many folks made their way down to the gazebo. How dare they do this in a gazebo donated by the churches? In the center of the gazebo was a large table, and on that table was the biggest wedding cake any of the people had ever seen! It had three humongous tiers, and there was a topper on each tier. On the bottom tier was a large heart, on the middle a large rose, and on the top was a beautiful statue of a dove. The people gawked in awe. The pastor of the little church with the white steeple asked the county justice who had made the cake, and the justice replied, “The man from the little red bakery.”
Well, now the folks had to go have a chat with the man at the little red bakery.
The pastors got together and talked about it, and they gathered the council members from all their churches. The pastor of the church with the stained glass windows called the local paper, and shortly a reporter, who also attended the church with the stained glass windows, was on the scene.
Then the group, 20 men and women strong, walked down to the little red bakery. The pastor from the little church with the white steeple opened the door and held it as the group filled the front of the bakery.
Within a minute, the owner came out, wearing a baker’s long sleeved frock and hat.
“Welcome, my friends. What can I do for you today? Can I offer any of you a piece of freshly baked bread, or perhaps a glass of wine?”
The townsfolk looked at each other, unsure where to begin, or who should speak. Finally the pastor of the church with the stained glass windows spoke up.
“No, sir, thank you. We’re just a little concerned about your business, about who you do business with.”
The baker stood motionless and gazed at the pastor as he continued.
“You see, sir, we’re all Christians here, and we believe that God has set some certain standards that we need to follow, and that certain things should not be encouraged.”
The baker lowered an eyebrow for a moment and then smiled a half smile, giving a small nod of his head. The pastor continued:
“You see, we’re not trying to be against anyone, but we feel that when you make these large, elaborate cakes for criminals, women who have aborted their children, or gay couples, that you are glorifying behavior that is against God’s will. We got together and voted on it, and we think that we just can’t have that here, and we’d like you to reconsider who you do business with.”
The baker nodded again and said quietly, “I see.”
There was a large, pregnant silence in the room that made everyone uncomfortable. Finally the reporter spoke up: “Sir, have you ever read the Bible?”
The baker answered, “Yes, I have.”
“Well then, you know where we’re coming from,” the reporter concluded.
The baker stood silently.
Then the pastor of the little church with the white steeple asked: “Why do you do this? Why do you bake these beautiful cakes for these people?”
The baker sighed. He reached up and removed his baker’s hat revealing a crown of thorns that dug deeply into his scalp. As he did this, the sleeves of his frock drooped down, revealing large holes in his hands that could have only been made from nails.
The baker simply responded, “Because I love them so much.”
(Author’s note) I realized as I wrote this that some people might think that I am equating being gay with sinful behavior. I am not. The point of the story, dare I say parable, is to emphasize the love of Christ for all, no matter what other humans think of each other.–B.C.