Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: The Church (12/06/07)
TITLE: The First Church of the New World Religion
By Gerald Shuler
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The Holy War bombs had changed everything. A quick glance at the horizon confirmed his point. The once breath-taking landscape was now just an annoying reminder of the nightmarish devastation.
He glanced at the others one by one. Lilly was carefully combing what little was left of her long blond hair. ‘Thank God for Lilly,’ Hollingsworth thought. The Bible Raids had nearly wiped out Christian literature but Lilly was a fountain of memorized scripture. Recently she had started speaking almost entirely in quoted verses, making conversations with her more challenging.
Chunk was tuning his guitar. Before long he’d bust into song and, just like always, the others would join in the praise and worship. Hollingsworth noticed that Chunk had tightened the rope around his waste again. Who would have believed his skinny frame once weighed 300 pounds?
Lester tossed a small twig into the fire to watch the sparks fly. “Did any of you see what they did to our old church building?” he asked, knowing that he had been the only one brave enough to risk going into town. “They made it their headquarters.” He watched for a reaction from Hollingsworth. There was none so he spat on the ground to show his own disgust. “Headquarters. The church has become headquarters for Anti-christ.”
“That’s not the church,” Chunk said, plucking a pleasant chord from the guitar. “We’re the church… what’s left of it.”
Hollingsworth stood to his feet and walked toward the middle of the group. “That’s what I’m having trouble understanding.” He kicked a few pebbles, just to give time to cement his thoughts before speaking further. “I’ve always been taught in church services before the Holy War that Christians didn’t need to worry about all this suffering. Almost every preacher was saying we’d be raptured out before anything got tough. Why are we still here?” He looked in the eyes of each of them, one at a time. “Why weren’t we raptured?”
The blank stares were all Hollingsworth needed. They didn’t understand it either. Lilly put her brush down on the tomato crate that housed her treasures.
“But in those days, “ she said, “after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light.” She smiled sweetly. “That’s Mark 13: 24.”
Lester pushed some more kindling into the fire. “What does she mean by that verse?” He asked. “The sun still shines and the moon’s no different than it’s ever been.”
“It means the worst is still to come.” If nothing else, Chunk had a way of getting right to the point. “But it doesn’t answer the question of why wasn’t the true church raptured.” He strummed a final test of the guitar and then started softly singing some tune he’d made up.
“These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” Lilly explained. “That’s Revelation 7:14.”
Hollingsworth was familiar with the passage she had quoted and it made since. How had they missed it all these years?
“Chunk’s right.” Hollingsworth stated. “The worst is yet to come.”
Chunk stopped singing and all eyes centered on Hollingsworth.
“It doesn’t matter that we are still here. God knows where we are and that should be enough. He knows when to get us out of here.”
“Reverend Hollingsworth, we sure could use some encouragement. Do you have a word for us?”
Who had called him Reverend? It didn’t matter. Instantly memories flashed of his time as pastor of the church that was now Headquarters to the New World Religion. Finally, Lester was going to get a reaction to his earlier bit of news. It wouldn’t be the expected response, though.
Hollingsworth turned to face the small congregation. ‘Lord,’ he thought, ‘I would rather this cup pass for all of us.’ He went to the huge rock that had recently become his pulpit. ‘Nevertheless,’ his thought concluded, ‘not my will, but thine be done.’
He breathed in God’s anointing. “Let’s have church.”
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