By JOHN PAUL CARTER
Autumn finally arrived last Sunday, both on the calendar and in the air. As I prepared to enter our worship service, my friend Bill handed me a bulletin and teased me about still wearing my straw hat when it was time to wear felt. (For some reason, unknown to me, both my wife and friends sometimes express concern about my attire.)
So this week, even though the temperature is still above average, I’ve exchanged my straw hats for my four felt hats – all Stetsons. They vary in age and condition but they’re all extremely comfortable to wear. That seven and three-eights long oval just fits my head!
But, I’m partial to Stetson hats for another reason. I love the picture inside the crown of the hat. In the top of each Stetson hat is a full color picture of a cowboy and his horse in the middle of the desert. The wrangler is sitting bareheaded with his empty canteen at his feet. He has filled his hat with water and is giving his thirsty mount a drink. I never put on my hat that I don’t notice that picture.
While the image may remind some of a “10-gallon hat” sturdy enough to hold water, it reminds me of much more. It’s a striking picture of a man who has not forgotten how much he owes to the horse that has carried him on his journey. To take care of the one who has taken care of you is the cowboy way!
It’s also the Biblical way – expressed in the language of the threshing floor: “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain” (Deuteronomy 25:4). In the New Testament, Paul applies the Old Testament teaching to the church’s responsibility to take care of its ministers (I Corinthians 9:9, I Timothy 5:18).