The Parable of the King’s Bridge

By Curtis K. Shelburne: CNJ columnist

Once upon a time in a land far, far away, a large and ornate bridge connected two bustling villages and spanned a mighty river. The bridge had stood for decades, having been built by a great king who had spared no expense in building it to last for many lifetimes. It was a blessing to everyone in the region, and so the citizens did not mind submitting to the Ten Rules for Crossing that the king had inaugurated upon opening the bridge.

Among others of the Rules, it was stipulated that each citizen crossing the bridge would pay a toll of half a shilling, and that each would pause before setting foot on the bridge, face east toward the king’s palace, lift a hand in salute, and utter a prescribed phrase of blessing upon the beneficent king.

Another of the Rules stipulated that each villager crossing the bridge should wear a special hat or scarf signifying that they had paid the toll. Other Rules dealt with the number and type of carts allowed, and the quantity of livestock, etc. It was clear that the bridge was strong enough to easily accommodate more carts and livestock than the Rules permitted, but the Rules were rules, and not harsh, and the people agreed that the great king had every right to stipulate rules for crossing the bridge he had wisely built and provided.

The people were surprised one day when a herald appeared near the bridge and announced for all to hear that the king was