Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: At the Pulpit (11/15/07)
TITLE: My First Topic
By Judy Bowers
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Nestled in the foothills of the Appalachian mountain range there sits a parish church that was conceived by a wealthy landowner to be the central focus of a small village. The architectural style of the building is from the Norman period of transition from Romanesque to Gothic with the basic plan being cruciform (cross-shaped). The proportions reflect the shorter Greek cross rather than the longer Roman Cross.
The raised pulpit, with its intricately carved canopy, occupies an almost central location making it visible from every pew. For more than a century many stories have been told from that ornate pulpit whose canopy has the effect of drawing the eye upward. Some of those stories are colorfully depicted in the twelve stained glass windows which on a sunny day remind us that saints are just ordinary folks through whom “The Light” shines.
But there is one story about that consecrated place and what can happen when faith and hope and love are heard and inwardly digested and lived in the world. It goes like this: at one time there was a stranger of unkempt appearance who would enter near the end of each Sunday morning’s worship service. In his disheveled clothing and with his unshaven face he would, with eyes focused straight ahead and with resolute steps, walk boldly toward the altar to share with fellow Christians the sacrament of Christ’s body and blood.
From his humble appearance any observer could reasonably assume that he enjoyed no worldly status and very few, if any, worldly possessions. Yet from his unwavering approach, he clearly knew exactly where he was going and nothing and no one stopped him from getting there. If he had looked about him at the more affluent believers he might have realized that God certainly can provide. But perhaps he already knew that because he did not linger to mingle with folks. He simply came to the altar and then left. Perhaps his humble presence served as a reminder to the more affluent who gathered there that the abundant life is not to be found in an abundance of worldly possessions or in worldly status, but rather in a relationship with Jesus Christ.
I Samuel 16.7 (RSV) “But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, […], for the Lord sees not as man sees; man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.””
At the pulpit. Those who have served behind that pulpit have reminded many of us travelers of our ultimate destination. And along the way they have helped folks with marriages, christenings, deaths of loved ones, and other significant moments and events in this life. From the pulpit they have shared their gift of teaching. Those on the other side of the pulpit have learned that God is love and if very lucky, after listening to a sermon at the pulpit, one just might, God willing, actually see one in action.
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