Zach and Mary are sitting in their accustomed seats, about a third of the way back from the stage at church, waiting for worship to begin.
They have had their differences over worship styles. Zach wants to hear the hymns he knew as a boy. They give him a sense of solace, of continuity, of solemn holiness. Mary, however, wants the upbeat praise and worship music that has people out of their seats, glorifying God and lifting their hearts.
Both are blessed to belong to the Holy Sepulchre of Relativistic Faith, where the governing board has hammered out the edict: Two hymns, two contemporary songs, then the message!
Neither is quite prepared for what will unfold in the next hour.
They are travelling through another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind; a journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination ... and the Holy Spirit. They are now entering...the Twilight Zone.
"That's not our regular worship team," whispers Zach as a rather unkempt looking young man takes the microphone and begins to sing.
"Poverty is so hard to see, when it's only on your TV
"Or 20 miles across town
"We’re all livin' so good, we've moved out of Jesus' neighborhood
"Where He's hungry and not feelin' so good
"From going through our trash." 1
Mary almost swallows her gum at the clashing lyrics.
"I'm certainly not going to sit her and be insulted," she whispers as she stands to join a number of others heading for the doors.
Then she notices the chains across the doors and the burly men, arms crossed, blocking their exit.
"What is the meaning of this!" demands Zach.
"Nobody goes in, nobody goes out," deadpans one guard. "You gotta problem, take it up with Him."
He gestures vaguely toward a life-sized picture of Jesus hanging over the stage.
"Listen," Zach hisses. "I MUST leave. I have a heart condition!"
"Then this might be just what you need," retorts a second guard with a knowing grin.
"This is against the fire code!" added Mary.
"I believe the issue of 'fire safety' will be addressed as well," says the first guard. "Please take your seats."
Onstage, the singer launches into another song:
"I saw the face of Jesus down on Sixteenth Avenue
"He was sleeping in an old car, while his mom went looking for food
"And I heard the voice of Jesus gently whisper to my soul
"Didn't you say you wanted to know me?
"Well here I am, and it's getting cold
"So what now? What will you do now that you've found me.
"What will you do with this treasure you've found?
"I know I may not look like what you expected
"But if you remember this is right where I said I would be
"You've found me
"What now?" 2
Mary is sobbing quietly as the image of a homeless Jesus takes up residence in her mind.
"This world is making me drunk
"On the spirits of fear," the singer continues.
"So when He says 'Who will go?'
"I am nowhere near." 3
Zach begins to think of the times he has been noticeably absent when God was calling for someone, anyone, to take up His cross.
"Lord," he whispers. "I repent."
As if in response, the singer on stage goes into another song:
"I repent, I repent
"Of parading my liberty
"I repent , I repent
"Of paying for what I get for free
"Of the way I believe that I’m living right
"By trading sins for others
"That are easier to hide
"Oh I am wrong and of these things I repent." 4
Throughout the auditorium, people are sniffling and hugging one another. The singer quietly takes up his guitar and vanishes down the back stairs.
The doors open. The guards are nowhere to be seen.
People stream into the sunshine, stripped of hymns, of contemporary worship, yet buoyed by what had seemed to be a very objectionable message.
They stream out of the Twilight Zone, ready to do God's will.
"Therefore since we are God's offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone — an image made by man's design and skill. In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent." -- Acts 17:29-30 (NIV)
1 "Rich Young Ruler." Derek Webb
2 "What Now?" Steven Curtis Chapman
3 "This World." Aaron Tate
4 "I Repent." Derek Webb
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