Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Worship (corporate) (10/04/07)
TITLE: The Body Worships
By Kenneth Bridge
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“So glad to find you, Maria. Elsie wasn’t feeling well and Liz has out of town guests with her today. Even though it’s not your turn on the rotation, could you take the infant nursery this morning?”
Inside, Maria imagined the shocked looks on everyone’s face as she stomped her foot and screamed, “No, not today, a thousand times NO!” Outwardly, she found herself out of habit smiling meekly and answering, “Of course I will.”
She fought back the tears and contorted her face into a tight smile as she turned away from the sanctuary and headed for the doors of the nursery. The doors closing behind her, shutting out the animated conversations in the foyer, brought back yesterday’s visit to her husband’s prison. There was something so final and depressing about the clanging doom of those door’s locks driving home. So why was she feeling the same way here in God’s house?
It had been a trying week. The monthly visits with Tom were always hard. He was more boy than man, forever the aggrieved victim of circumstances he himself had made, always denied the opportunities he refused to recognize when they presented themselves. How had her life become entangled with his? She had tried to enlist his support in dealing with their son, Tommy Jr. Failing in three subjects in middle school, disruptive in classes, he needed strong direction from his parents. But Tom wasn’t interested and she was overwhelmed, working double shifts. She should have denied Tommy his weekend outing with Joshua’s family but she was too tired to fight and needed the time alone.
She had so desperately looked forward to this morning. She needed, no craved, the cleansing power of praise and worship, the nourishment of God’s Word, the infusion of hope and strength she got from the services. Instead, she was to be cooped up with crying infants.
Still seething with resentment, shocked at the intensity of her unspoken anger, she twisted off the volume on the speakers that carried the main service. The nerve-splitting crying of other people’s babies was preferable to the static-ridden songs of worship offered up by the untroubled. “So why, when I need it so much, do you keep me from worshipping you?” she prayed, an accusation formed as a question.
As if in sympathy with her self pity, one of the babies began to wail. Maria checked the baby’s diaper. Still dry. She put the pacifier that had been pinned to the baby’s outfit back in her mouth. The baby promptly spit it out so she could cry without obstruction. Maria heard a surge of music as someone opened and closed the doors to the sanctuary while she stooped to scoop the baby in to her arms and hold her close, gently rocking her. The crying only intensified.
She heard the door to the nursery open and a girl, still not quite old enough to be a woman, despite the obvious swelling in front, stood teary eyed and trembling.
“I’m sorry,” the girl said, her voice so quiet it barely registered, as if she believed she had no right to speak or even exist, holding an unringed hand over her mouth. “I felt like everybody was staring at me.”
“You’ll find most people here are actually very compassionate,” Maria comforted her. “And the ones who aren’t, aren’t worth paying attention to. I’m Maria by the way.”
“Celeste,” came the answer as the girl seemed to brighten. “I’ve messed up my life.” Celeste said, holding back tears. “And now I have to be responsible for a baby. I don’t think that I can.”
“Not many of us can say any different,” Maria confided. “And the ones who can are probably lying,” she laughed. “But we’re here to help each other. Do you want to hold this one? I can’t seem to quiet her.”
As Celeste gathered the baby into her arms it quieted immediately and nestled in close. Celeste sat down and began gently rocking. Soon both were fast asleep.
Time passed quickly and soon noisy comings and goings announced the end of the service. “Too bad you missed it. Pastor taught how we all worship as one body when everyone does their own part, no matter how insignificant.” Donna was telling her .
“I heard the message loud and clear,” Maria smiled, full of hope and strength for the coming week.
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