Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Worship (corporate) (10/04/07)
TITLE: The Monday Before Psalm Sunday Breakthrough
By Julie Arduini
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Pastor Larry Waters sounded weary as he paged me. I sighed and pressed the intercom reply button.
“Sir, you don’t have a stockbroker. Remember what we get paid around here?”
Before I removed my finger, Pastor Waters was at my desk. I knew exactly what he wanted. I handed him the mega size aspirin bottle.
“If I had stock in aspirin--after the passion play, I’d retire a wealthy man. The choir is driving me nuts.”
As Pastor Waters’ secretary, I needed no further explanation. With less than a year on the job I observed choices that were less mature than my own ten year old daughter, Courtnee. Many of my phone call tasks were diva related. I wondered when the group had time to sing. Nightly Courtnee and I prayed as Pastor Waters believed that praise and worship would break through.
“Will it help to know your two o’clock appointment isn’t about the passion play?”
Pastor allowed me to be slightly sarcastic when we communicated.
“My head’s throbbing. Tomorrow Connie Skyler is coming in with a list of demands as soloist. Okay, what’s up at two?”
“Jodi Beckwith wants you to take your focus off passion play to remember Creation. As in honoring April’s Arbor Day with a morning full of worship.”
Pastor Waters swallowed the aspirin without water and retreated to his office.
I decided to step up prayer for the church, Pastor, and the choir. I wasn’t the most experienced Christian, I came to the Lord after my divorce fourteen months before, but I just couldn’t believe Jesus was about nitpicking. When I finished praying I placed Pastor’s favorite Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir CD to stream throughout the offices. Praise and worship was going to break forth, even if it had to start on a CD.
Through the weeks I played the praise and worship music from Brooklyn Tab, Harlem Boys Choir and Denver and the Mile High Orchestra, my favorite. I smiled wide when the choir came in to meet with Pastor to complain. I cheered and clapped when they sang during service. More than anything, I kept praying.
God moved the Monday before Psalm Sunday, the last possible day I expected. Courtnee woke with a fever and I had no childcare options. The delivery trucks beat me to church and laid out three hundred palm branches in the parking lot. Connie Skyler scheduled a ten o’clock to discuss her list of suggestions. I groaned and beat my head on the steering wheel.
“Mama is this the praise and worship you’re always talking about?”
Apparently I wasn’t the only one in the family with a knack for sarcasm.
I asked Courtnee to carry my peach tea and help me bring the palms into the sanctuary. My last plea to my precocious daughter was whatever she did that day, stay out of the way.
A few minutes before ten I realized that peach tea was doing more harm than good for my productivity. I raced to the ladies room in hopes of getting other business taken care of before Connie waltzed in.
Sound bites of Denver and the Mile High Stand CD made its way into the restroom as I washed my hands. I took a deep breath and started out when I heard Courtnee talking.
“What’s that Mrs. Skyler? Are you the adulteress in the play?”
I cracked the door and watched in horror. Connie had a red robe as bright as a fire hydrant in one hand and a rough sketch of her face and name for a proposed billboard. Connie cleared her throat but my blunt child plowed on.
“That robe is so ugly I assumed the one wearing it would be on their way to a stoning. Is this sign you’re holding promoting the Mrs. Skyler show or a sign of love to Christ the King?”
I couldn’t move or speak. Connie gasped and fell silent for nearly a minute. She looked to the cross and the empty choir bleachers. When Connie replied, her voice was soft.
“Courtnee, thank you. Your words make me want to praise and worship Jesus, not myself. I want the whole choir to feel that too. It’s been a long time since we sang with right motives. ”
Courtnee shouted a hallelujah louder than the breakthrough praise and worship music still pumping through the speakers. She then asked Connie,
“Don’t you want to take your ugly robe?”
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