Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Worship (corporate) (10/04/07)
TITLE: Sharing Our Spirit
By Therese Witkus
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The deep blue sky of autumn held the earth and sunbursts blazed out from here and there, reflecting off shiny surfaces. The air that had the crisp, comfortable feel of the new season just a few days ago, was today, quite unbelievably hot and humid again. Cars were still filling the lot as the bells pealed the gathering call. People flowed toward the church, meeting and greeting warmly, some quietly, others with a nod and a smile.
Allison waved to an older couple as she made her way through the vestibule. “Good morning Aunt Ellen, Uncle Paul, how are you getting along?” she asked.
“We’re fine, Allison, isn’t this heat something else?” Aunt Ellen spoke evenly as her eyes moved around the crowd. Uncle Paul smiled and hugged her. As she drew within his embrace she felt the gentle strength of his arms.
“Sit with us and then come to lunch at the house.” he said as he released her and they started to move inside.
<I>Whoever did the altar arrangements really outdid themselves this week,</I> Allison thought. <I>Maybe it’s the mums, that yellow is gorgeous and the red is so deep.</I> Sunbeams slanted through the stained glass at a lower angle at this time of year and rays from a prism of colored lights danced among the people near the windows. She sang softly, the voices of the choir stirring their feelings and the steady thrum of the congregation upheld them all.
The readings were filled with praise for God and the gospel message told the parable of the rich young man.<CENTER> “…’if you want to enter life, obey the commandments.’ ‘Which ones?’ the man inquired. Jesus replied, ‘Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother,’ and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’”</CENTER>
Father stepped to the pulpit for the homily. Allison and the others settled themselves to listen. There was a tension in the air, an undercurrent pulling at the minds and souls of some present. Fr. John cleared his throat and read a letter from the bishop noting that today is Respect Life Sunday.
<I>Hang on, Aunt Ellen, everyone is not staring at you. God, how long does she have to go on feeling the pain of Cathy’s abortion? And she lost her only hope of a grandchild in the process. What a situation for such a loving family.</I> Uncle Paul took his wife’s hand in his and gently stroked her fingers with his thumb.
The bishop’s letter went on, “God’s sacred gift of life begins at conception, changes at death and goes on in eternity. We are bound to honor life…” The words explained our teachings on the topic.
In the Prayer of the Faithful, the intentions of prayer were read out, “…for the wisdom of our government leaders, <I>Lord hear our prayer</I>, for our hearts to be open and respect ALL life, <I>Lord hear our prayer</I>, for the courage of our soldiers serving overseas,” <I>Lord hear -- What was that, Lord? Respect ALL life, courage of our soldiers? I have to think this through later, where are we here? The sign of peace</I>.
Allison shook off the disturbing thoughts and reached for Aunt Ellen to offer the sign of peace in the form of a hearty hug. She was not alone in the gesture, friends were moving from distant pews to wrap Aunt Ellen in love and compassion. Uncle Paul made his way to shake hands with a young friend. People were reaching out to those burdened with a loss of God’s sacred gift of life. The moment continued until the people had stepped back to their places and the organ chords cued us to prepare for the communion rite.
The singing seemed louder and the communal prayers more earnest after that. Walking out together, Allison picked up a bulletin and joined in the parting comments with people around them. “Are you coming over for lunch then, Allison?” Aunt Ellen inquired as they walked toward the door.
“Sure, I’ll meet you there, I need to see someone,” Allison hugged them and turned to find Fr. Henry, the pastor. As she waited for him to finish speaking to a young couple, she glanced through the bulletin. Along with the details on Respect Life Day, was a pleasant request to support our troops by collecting items to be sent overseas. <I>I need to think about this</I>.
Scripture: Matthew 19:17-19 NIV
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