Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Telephone (07/17/08)
TITLE: The Constant Communication of God
By David Johnston
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A glance at the laughing youths exiting the yawning pub door, the rain drips down his face; past the beggars crying - ‘please, change, please’ - the street alive with chattering feet harmonising with clattering mouths and all Matthew could think of was church, was peace, was desperately, frantically trying to pray for his best friend. Rainwater huddles in a corner of the roof, before cascading into the waiting puddle; Matthew sidesteps a homeless, obviously thirsty dog before glancing at his phone – unknown number – no time to call back as he strides purposefully along the street. The crowds converge on him as he searches for the side street which would lead to his escape from this present, evil age into the temple of God.
A vibration from his phone is ignored as a young lady almost bumps into him. A missed smile in the middle of a crowd – an old school friend? a stranger? a former lover? - but no time to say anything, no time to do anything but thread his way through the impersonal masks. Empty Starbucks cups litter the street. One finds its way into the hands of a homeless man desperately, frantically trying to fill it with change. As his threadbare clothing seems to disintegrate in the rain, a torrent of water leads naked, bloodied flesh down his chest, and Matthew unthinkingly tosses a coin towards the cup, into the gutter, as the church looms ahead.
Entering late, wet, cold, a hurried prayer – ‘Lord, reveal yourself, Lord’ – desperately, frantically trying to find the peace he’d hurried here for, to rest in God’s presence, to pray for his best friend languishing in prison, Matthew bows his head. Silence echoes around the dark cavernous chamber. Here in a sanctuary from the world, God seems to be silent. Here in the midst of His people, Christ seems to be absent. Matthew remains still before God and remembers the constant phone calls, the strangers, the poor, the hungry, the homeless. His phone rings again. Matthew pauses, wondering whether to answer. The silence speaks and he heads towards the back of the church, lifting the phone to his ear as the pastor’s sermon echoes the long-forgotten preacher’s, climbing softly over the crevices of the building, winding its way from pillar to pillar and falling to the ground:-
“...for I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat; I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink; I was a stranger and you did not invite me in; I needed clothes and you did not clothe me; I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.” (Matthew 25: 42-43)
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