Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Banquet - deadline 8-16-12 10 am NY time (08/09/12)
TITLE: Welcome Home
By LaRue Kendrick
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Stephanie couldn’t get over the difference. She had been invited to attend a special banquet honoring the new mayor. As she walked into the banquet hall, it was all she could do to keep from opening her mouth in amazement and to stare at the glitter and glitz that was everywhere. She looked down at her new dress which she had bought for the occasion. She had chosen it because it was beautiful to her in its simple lines. Now she realized it was plain compared to those of the other ladies present. With every hand shake, she was met with diamonds as big as the pearls at her neck. The food had names she couldn’t pronounce and flavors that she had never tasted.
By contrast, Stephanie had recently been at a homecoming in the town where she grew up. The honored guest was a cousin who had been injured in Afghanistan. Now he was home, with only one leg. His gaunt face and the darkness under his eyes told only part of the ordeal he had been through.
There were no fancy dresses here or diamonds as big as pearls. Twisted streamers of red, white and blue adorned the tables and hung from the ceiling along with tiny white lights. Friends, neighbors and family had come to share this young man’s burden and, hopefully, to lighten his load of anguish.
Instead of speeches boasting the abilities and expectations of the mayor, there were humble words of thanksgiving for the return of a son, a cousin, a brother, a friend. As the group milled around the room, waiting for a chance to welcome him home personally, someone started to sing Amazing Grace. One by one, others joined in. Tears streamed down Stephanie’s cheeks, moved by God’s grace in bringing Sean home.
Before the plates were filled, Sean’s father asked to pray. He began, “Lord, we come together this evening to welcome our son, Sean, home. We cannot express enough gratitude to you for allowing us to keep him. It is our heart’s desire that you show him, Lord, what you have for him to do for you, just as he is. We know that you can use the hardships in our lives, in his especially, to glorify you. Let him feel in his soul, the love you have for him and that you have a place for him to serve you. In the name of Jesus, your son, who also suffered on this earth so that Sean and each of us might have hope, healing and assurance of your presence in our lives and salvation for eternity. Amen.”
Tissues and handkerchiefs came out of pockets and purses, and the sound of blowing noses came from all around the room. Sean raised a hand as he sat in the wheelchair and asked that he might say a word. He turned to gaze at the loved ones surrounding him and haltingly spoke. “First, I want to say thank you, Dad. You always have the right words. I want to thank each of you here for your support. I can feel the power of your prayers and the love that you have for me. It means more to me than I could ever say. I pray I won’t let God or you down as I wait to see what I am to do next. Thanks for coming here tonight. It means a lot to be with you.”
The food was made with loving hands who wanted to bring an offering of celebration to honor this young man who had given so much for all. In comparing the tables and atmosphere of the two evenings, Stephanie relished this homemade food, the fellowship of family and friends and knew that this was the real banquet celebration.
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