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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Gifts (of the Spirit or service) (11/22/07)

TITLE: Empty Heads Walking
By Jan Ross


Pastor Aiken arrived to assume his new position as Senior Pastor at the Clayfield Community Church. Eager to meet the townsfolk, he stopped at the diner to get a bite to eat. As he walked inside, he couldn’t believe his eyes. There sat a man with a clay bowl situated atop his head.

“Hi! I’m Pastor Aiken, the new preacher in town. Is there a story that goes with that bowl on your head?”


Since it appeared no one else was round, he walked back to his car. Another man appeared; he, too, had an empty clay bowl on his head. “Hi, I’m Pastor Aiken!”


“Well, can you tell me where I might find Tom McIntyre?”


“I’ve met a few people here and noticed everyone’s walking around with an empty clay bowl on their heads. What’s going on?”

“Don’t know.”

“You mean, you wear an empty bowl on your head and don’t know why you do it?”

“Guess so.”

“Ok. Well, nice meeting you!”


Pastor Aiken drove to the market about a block down the street. As he parked his car, he noticed a woman also wearing a bowl on her head pushing a grocery cart toward her car.

“Hi! I’m Pastor Aiken, the new preacher. Do you know Tom McIntrye? I’m supposed to contact him when I arrive in town.”

“S’pose so.”

“Can you tell me how to find him?”

“No.” She grabbed her last bag of groceries, got in her car, shut the door and drove off.

As he watched in amazement a man approached him—oddly enough, there was no clay bowl atop his head.

“You must be Pastor Aiken! Tom McIntyre. Figured you might need some help.”

“Thanks. I was told there was a strange situation here, but I never imagined anything like this! What’s going on?”

“Think you need more input than I can offer. Let me show you where the church is—follow me.”

Sunday morning arrived. As he put the finishing touches on his inaugural sermon, Pastor Aiken expected to hear the organist playing; silence invaded his heart. Lord, show me this very morning how to minister to Your people. He anxiously clutched his Bible and walked out the door onto the platform.

Such a sight—the room was filled with people each adorned with a cold, empty, lifeless bowl situated atop on their head. The altar was strewn with gifts, each labeled with a name. It became apparent—the gifts they needed were available to them but they were never claimed.

“My text this morning comes from Romans 12:6-8...‘We have different gifts, according to the grace given us...’ Each of you has been given gifts to benefit the Body of Christ, to strengthen the Kingdom. God has given each of us gifts as unique as our fingerprints. But we must accept them, develop them, use them, and cherish them. They’re here at the altar waiting for you. Come now! Fill your empty clay vessels with gifts from the Master’s hand.”

Tom McIntyre rose. Although without an empty bowl on his head, he walked toward the altar and kneeled. He stood up holding a gift bearing his name near his heart.

“Come here, my friend.” Pastor Aiken motioned. “May we never neglect to use the gifts God gives us in our neighborhoods, the workplace, the schools, the marketplace, even in our own homes. They’re not to be used for our own benefit but for the building and strengthening of God’s Kingdom, to bring glory to Him and to bless others.”

Another man edged out of his seat. With everyone watching, he moved toward the altar and found a gift bearing his name; he placed it in the bowl atop his head. Suddenly, the empty bowl vanished; he glowed with excitement. “Pastor Aiken, I can play the organ. May I?”

Next, a woman arose and made her way to the altar; she found the gift bearing her name. As she placed it in the bowl, it vanished. One by one they all approached the altar to find their uniquely wrapped gifts. Empty bowls disappeared as they placed the gifts within them. That morning many new committees and ministries were born.

Gifts now distributed, all that remained was a decanter containing measuring spoons. Individually Pastor Aiken passed them out with careful instruction: “Possess your gifts in increasing measure to prevent you from ever being ineffective and unproductive. Be filled with joy and stir up the gifts of God in you.”

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This article has been read 1101 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Lynda Schultz 11/29/07
What a clever way to approach the subject. Great job.
Janice Cartwright11/30/07
Imaginative lead-in to a "meaty" message! Those clay bowl caps kept me reading! I had to hear the rest of the story and it didn't disappoint! Nice finish~
Patricia Todd11/30/07
A novel way to get the message across.
Verna Cole Mitchell 12/01/07
Very creative and fitting to the topic
Ann Renae Hair12/01/07
Caught me right away with the clay bowls! Nailed the topic well in a few words in 'fourth from the bottom' paragraph. Loved it.
Betty Castleberry12/03/07
I was itching to see what the clay bowls were for. This held my interest, and is also a good reminder that we do need to claim our gifts. Well done.
LauraLee Shaw12/04/07
Each of you has been given gifts to benefit the Body of Christ, to strengthen the Kingdom. God has given each of us gifts as unique as our fingerprints. But we must accept them, develop them, use them, and cherish them. They’re here at the altar waiting for you. Come now! Fill your empty clay vessels with gifts from the Master’s hand.”

It just doesn't get a whole lot more poignant than this. Incredible writing and message tucked within.
Dee Yoder 12/04/07
Very unique and clever story. It's a great illustration of the gifts and paints a vivid picture for the reader of the meaning of the scriptures you included.
Temple Miller12/04/07
Beautifully written parable. I loved it.
Shelley Ledfors 12/04/07
This caught my interest right away and held it to the end. Very creative!
Jan Ackerson 12/04/07
Awesome allegory that brought a smile to my face with its absurdity. Really good job with the imagery!
Patty Wysong12/04/07
That's exactly how empty you are when you ignore the gifts God's given you! What a fun way to illustrate that! Hugs!
william price12/04/07
Excellent concept, masterfully delivered. Empty clay bowls on their heads, classic, very creative. You ministered your message expertly. LOve your entries. God bless.
Joy Faire Stewart12/05/07
Very creative approach with an excellent message.
Sara Harricharan 12/05/07
oooh, you had me going here. I wanted to know what kind of place had this poor pastor ended up that people were walking around with clay bowls on thier heads. WOW. This was a great message. Good writing!
LaNaye Perkins12/05/07
Whoa, this was a great story. I love the title and the story. You kept rivited to the screen all the way through to conclusion.
Joanne Sher 12/06/07
Very, VERY clever and creative. Ministered to me, for sure. Good stuff.