Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: River (08/31/06)
TITLE: An Echo of Hope
By Allen Clupny
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Turning toward the familiar voice and seeing Obed and his son, Jamon replied, “Very well. I see you brought your boy to watch The Baptist. How is Melech today?”
As Obed walked down the sandy slope he answered, “Ask him. Today…” then he slipped, falling awkwardly on his rear-end. Laughing, though slightly embarrassed, he finished his reply, “…is a good day.”
After helping Obed up, Jamon turned to the boy and reached out to shake his hand.
“How are you Melech?” Jamon asked.
The autistic child looked aimlessly about as if watching a swirl of gnats and flatly replied, “Very well.”
Jamon smiled at his echoed words and patted the boy on the shoulder.
Obed was grateful for this friend who didn’t judge or criticize him for his son’s random fits and jabbering. Then he asked Jamon, “Is John here yet? There aren’t many people around.”
“It’s still early.” He replied.
“Early!” Melech repeated loudly.
“Yes it is. Good lad.” Obed said smiling.
Both men laughed gently at the boy’s outburst, while Melech smiled and said, “Good lad.”
“That’s right Melech. You are a good lad,” the two men responded in unison. Then looked at each other and laughed heartily at their harmony of thought.
Their laughter was broken when Obed noticed a stirring in the crowd. Tugging on Jamon's sleeve he said, “It looks like the preacher has arrived.”
Both men turned and watched Melech walk stiffly to the Jordan’s edge. Then they stared at the man clothed in camel hair entering the murky water.
Raising his arm and pointing at John, Melech said, “Good lad.”
Surprised by his son’s comment and not knowing what to say, Obed smiled and snickered. Then tipping his head toward the Baptist he said softly to Jamon, “Good lad…Eh?”
Suddenly, John shouted, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.”
Jamon and Obed looked where the itinerant pointed. The growing crowd slowly parted as the man called ’Jesus’ passed thru and walked into the water. Stillness permeated the scene as the two men in the Jordan began to converse. John bowed his head as if in submission. Then he reached into the river with a cupped hand and gently poured water over Jesus’ head.
What’s he doing here?” Jamon asked.
“I don’t know, but something is very strange.” Obed replied.
Looking up, Jamon saw the sky appear to bend as if a portal opened to an unknown place. Then something descended. It had shape and dimension; familiar, yet not created. A presence of peace covered the area as every eye along both shorelines peered upward.
Suddenly, Melech pointed at Jesus and shouted, “The Lamb of God!”
“Quiet!” His father snapped pulling down the boys arm as people along the river turned and stared at the child.
Instantly, a rumbling voice filled the air. Jamon’s chest compressed with each word and Obed fell to his knees and wept. Melech lifted his eyes upward and raised both arms to the sky.
Time seemed to stop even as the collision of worlds drew to a close. Then Jamon asked in a trembling voice, “Obed, did you hear that?”
Weeping still, Obed weakly replied, “Yes, but I don’t understand.” Seeing Melech at the rivers edge in apparent worship, Obed wept more deeply and began to cover his head with sand at a new sense of unworthiness.
Then the boy proclaimed, “Behold the Lamb of God. This is my beloved Son.” Melech’s face went blank and he began to look around as before.
Moments later, Obed stood and wiped his face with his sleeve. Then he asked Jamon, “What has happened here? I sense great conviction.”
“I don’t know Obed. I don’t know, but Jesus has left.” he replied.
Not knowing what else to say, Obed took his son by the arm and said, “C’mon Melech. We have things to do.”
“Things to do.” the boy said flatly as the morning sunlight continued to dance on the rippling water.
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