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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Worship (corporate) (10/04/07)

TITLE: God's Tears
By Martha Ford


Here I am, sitting on a pew in the center of the Church. Not up front so as to appear too eager, not in the back to appear disinterested. Something terrible is about to happen, something that crept up on me and slapped me in the face just two weeks ago. Has it been only two weeks since I became aware that several of our lay leaders were suddenly sitting in the congregation instead of leading services? Now I sit here, feet dangling slightly as they barely touch the floor, hands damp, heart thundering in my ears, like an errant child facing retribution. And I donít know what Iíve done. Have I done something? God may shed a tear today: it is certain I will.

My usual place is in the orchestra. Today I sit in the sanctuary beside Virginia holding onto her hand as if physical separation will cause us both to fall into an abyss. She is not old enough to be my mother, but she assumes that role as we try to understand what is happening. There is no service today, instead a meeting lead by the Pastor and others.

Virginia and I each received the letter two weeks ago. Caught totally off guard, I called her to find out what the letter meant. It read like an ultimatum: change the way the services and programs were managed or find another pastor. He assured us that ďmostĒ members felt as he did and would follow his exit. If we didnít accept his changes we would be responsible for a potential church split. From my place in the Music Ministry I had no idea that ďmostĒ of the members were unhappy or unsatisfied. We talked daily, praying and trying to understand the issues. The letter had been vague on that point.

Today we vote. Iím trying to understand what we are voting for: a change in the order of worship, change of personnel, or change in doctrine? Virginia canít quit pinpoint the issues either. So we hang on to each other, listen to the pastorís presentation and pray. Is God angry or sad? Who are the letter-writers angry with? What exactly are they angry about? Does the answer need to be either/or? Or is there a compromise that honors God?

Iíll admit the many recent changes that affected the Music Ministry were trying, but I felt we accommodated them with a sweet spirit. Then two weeks ago the changes appeared to cease in mid change. Members usually part of the service were missing. Was that when the Church chose up sides as if this was just a schoolyard game and not Godís business?

My God and my Church are my life. He never forsakes me, especially when humans do. He is the center of my worship. Is He not the center of all the lives in this Church? Why do I feel like an eight year old, sitting on the bench outside the principalís office? I squeeze Virginiaís hand.

Ballots are being passed out. Our Churchís fate is reduced to a 5 by 7 piece of paper with two questions written on it in bold black letters. How can all the lives, loves, births, deaths, services, activities, teaching, learning, laughter and tears of nearly a thousand people fit into two questions on a small piece of paper?

Nothing is significant enough to take precedent over God and His Church. Nothing is more significant than the peopleís relationship with God? Not the order of worship or who gets to be boss. Not who makes the decisions about the building, grounds and programs. Itís the Church that matters, not the pettiness of its individuals.

Thatís it! I hear God whispering in my ear. Vote for the Church. Virginia and I share a look. She understands this too. My heart is calm, His answer is clear. My ballot is in my hands. One more prayer is in my heart, this time a prayer of thanksgiving. My hand uses the pencil from the slot in the back of the pew to mark the tiny paper that holds the fate of this entire Church within its words. No, only God holds us. Vote for the Church and let God handle the rest.

Word Count: 712

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This article has been read 611 times
Member Comments
Member Date
LauraLee Shaw10/11/07
I can feel the emotion in the voice of the first person. It is the dreaded time in any church. Yes, vote, and let God do the rest. Amen.
Joanne Sher 10/12/07
This was heartwrenching to me - I so want to know if this is a true story. If not, of course, it is SOMEONE's true story, right? Excellent job with characterization, emotion, and laying out the issue in such a few number of words. ADORE the ending.
Karen Wilber10/14/07
Excellent title, IMHO. I think God weeps when we divide the body of believers. This one made me squirm because I can relate to the situation.
Beth LaBuff 10/14/07
It's sad when it comes to this. You've done a great job in writing this. I like this summary statement, "Our Churchís fate is reduced to a 5 by 7 piece of paper with two questions written on it". Very well done.
Darlene Casino 10/15/07
Amen! You did a great job with this entry.
darlene hight10/17/07
You did a powerful job of building suspense and expressing the emotion of the moment. I felt a little disappointed at the conclusion perhaps because I didn't have a clear idea of what they were voting about. I felt a little description of the letter contents would add to the impact.Still, your use of imagery and the ability to transport the reader into the moment was excellent.