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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: The Church (12/06/07)

TITLE: The anonymous visitor
By Josiah Kane


Benadam started as he wandered into the huge hall. He noticed the walls, newly painted red, and green carpet set up especially for Christmas. There was a huge tree to the left of the pulpit. But there was nothing about the true story of Christmas. How he was bored by the traditions that bogged down the church. But he was not about to pray for fire and brimstone to destroy the congregation, and one anonymous visitor’s words would not be heeded. Then he noticed there was a huge crowd there already—about two thousand of the cushioned, folding chairs were held down by overweight bottoms and there was also a scattering of scrawny teenagers and mischievous kids. He hurriedly sat down beside his friend Michael, and they chatted until the service began.

First there were some hymns. They were, it has to be said, beautiful pieces. The piano, flute, and violin complemented the human voices almost as well as an angels’ choir. In his upbringing in Israel, Benadam had only sung psalms, and this real music made a lovely change. Yet there was something missing: the words smashed against a screen by the thirty thousand dollar data projector meant little in the hearts of many people around him. Some people certainly were hungry to meet God. But they were seriously outnumbered by others who focused on the musicians, scenery, preacher or other frivolous matters. God would know whose worship to accept.

Gruffly the pastor ordered the worship team off the stage and declared a time of prayer. Benadam closed his eyes to communicate with his father in heaven, and then opened them again. He was shocked. Many eyes were turned toward the huge silken banner of a cross that fluttered over one window. They still considered Jesus locked to the cross, and for some that flag was becoming an idol. There were some who seemed to be praying, but to take one case; the mutterings coming from the man in front seemed to be calculations. Benadam inferred that the businessman was planning his store’s next advertisement—in the house of God.

During the testimonies Benadam wandered out after the stampede of kids en route to Sunday school. He stood tall to peek through the class window. All those children loved God so much. Their minds were desperate to learn more of the Bible. But they were going through the story of Joseph’s captivity, a story they had already thoroughly explored, with a teacher who really wanted to be back in the service. Benadam wondered how many would fall away from the Lord, being too weak to dig foundations in the firm rock and having only hesitant help in doing so. As the Bible was their spiritual food, these youngsters were spiritually malnourished. But the desire to learn sparked hope in his heart for them. How he longed to kick the teacher out of the room and show the kids some real truth.

Almost as soon as he got back the pastor was standing up to preach. He talked about the importance of giving generously and receiving thankfully, especially at Christmas. In terms of content the sermon couldn’t be faulted, but the dull lecture style, including a complete lack of illustrations, sent half the congregation into daydreams. Finally came the last song, sung with somewhat renewed vigour after a ten-minute rest. The service was over.

Michael disappeared home. Benadam was about to follow; appalled by the ritualistic body this church had begun. But as he was moving toward the grand door two kindly men stopped him.
“Could you come home for lunch with us?” each asked.

At the home of one man’s family, they were sitting down for a generous stew. The other potential host and his kin had joined them. They all linked hands, lifted eyes to heaven and prayed. The man’s daughter and the guest’s two children were not chatting between themselves but discussing the service. Finally conversation steered towards the visitor, and they asked, among the usual small talk, how he had such a name as Benadam.

Jesus turned and smiled. “Brush up on your Hebrew. Ben—Son of, Adam—Man; sound familiar?” Then he disappeared back into Heaven, smiling to see people following the path he had shown.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Jan Ackerson 12/16/07
Good as allegory or cautionary tale--I sincerely believe that the modern church isn't in such deplorable condition! Definitely well-written, and much to think over.
LaNaye Perkins12/16/07
This was good. You got me! I had begun to suspect the visitor was an angel or something, but didn't guess it was Jesus. Very well done.
Yvonne Blake 12/16/07
Interesting! You surprised me at the end. I suggest that you use a little dialogue here and there, to make it more realistic. I like the descriptions.