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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Home Group (11/29/07)

TITLE: An Out of Order Meeting
By Linda Germain
12/03/07


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“Come on in out of the wind, Marlene. Here let me take that.”

Goldie Jenson reached for what she knew would be delicious goodies. She added the chocolate-caramel-nutty dessert to the others lined along the breakfast bar.

Marlene Goodvick gave her hostess a quick hug and hurried to warm up in the living room.

“Ooh, Marlie,” her friend Muffy Osborne shrieked, “You made it. I was afraid you-know-who would keep you on the phone so long you’d miss the prayer group.”

Marlene waved to the other women and joined Muffy on the loveseat near the fireplace. She couldn’t wait to tell what their mutual pal’s new boyfriend had done. There was just so much juicy stuff to share.

“Oh my dear…he has gone and run off with her sister to some island or other.”

Muffy nodded, all ears. She had two cents of her own to add.

“But I hear they’ve split now and he is about to marry a native girl who weaves baskets or belly dances or something weird like that…and has a ring in her nose, or is it his nose, or maybe it’s on her toes. I forget which.”

The conversational buzz in the room sounded like a drone of hyperactive busy bees. Their leader, Miss Constance, struggled to get their attention.

“Ladies, Ladies…Please! Get your Bibles and settle down.”

Muffy whispered to her fountain of misinformation who seemed ready to burst, “Oh, I hope we’ll break for refreshments early.”

Miss Constance was older, and certainly more mature than most of the middle-aged women in the home prayer group. She was known for her wisdom and knowledge of Scripture and the way she carried such a mantle of peace about her. Her frown showed otherwise tonight.

“There is something I am forced to share with you.”

There was a decided sound of bodies shifting forward hoping to catch the latest news.

“We’ve been meeting once a week for awhile. Remember? The congregation was getting so big we needed small cell groups where we could more easily minister to each other and also pray for the needs of members, as well as anything else on our hearts.”

There was a collective affirmative nod and a look of smug satisfaction that they were accomplishing those goals and hopefully earning stars in their crowns. She shocked them by raising her articulate voice.

“Do you know what G-O-S-S-I-P spells? In case you don’t, I’ll tell you. It spells SIN!”

Marlene and Muffy registered shock that Miss Constance would dare to imply such a thing. They were sure she must be mistaken. The older woman paced back and forth in front of the offending group of tale-mongers.

“We are supposed to be praying and seeking after God. We are supposed to be listening to the Holy Spirit to guide us to those who are ill or in trouble. It seems to me that we spend way more time filling up on excess sugar and rumor than we do in intercession or supplication to the Father.”

Miss Constance softened her tone and continued.

“Perhaps familiarity makes it too easy for story-reporting…but I beg you, please join me in making a dedicated effort to stop this blatantly un-Christian behavior. We must strive to be daughters of the King.”

Who could argue with that? She looked at each questioning face and began the meeting as usual.

“Any volunteers to start the prayers?”

Marlene raised her foolish hand.

“Yes, Marlie…go ahead.”

In a dramatic, pleading whine, the spiritually ignorant woman began, “Dear God, please forgive us for what Miss Constance says is gossiping.”

The loving leader had only a moment’s reassurance before Marlene blundered on like a drunken sailor.

“ And Lord, forgive poor Jack for whomping the daylights out of …of that other woman he’s living with.”


There were several encouraging gasps.


“Also, we pray for that embezzler down at the lumber mill. His red-haired wife probably needs the money for her liposuction.”

Miss Constance slipped around to the fireplace and gently placed her hand over babbling Marlene’s gossipy mouth, then closed the so-called prayer.

“Dear Father…please forgive us sinners. We will be ending early tonight.”

Resigned, she shut the door with a firm hand as she left. The gaggle of females moved to the kitchen, not content to leave delicious sweets uneaten. Coffee, calories, and chitchat flowed.

Muffy expressed confusion about the abrupt adjournment, “Good grief…what in the world was that about?”

No one heard her. They were all talking.
____________

Proverbs 26: 22 (NLT)

Rumors are dainty morsels that sink deep into one’s heart.



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This article has been read 689 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Joanne Sher 12/07/07
A message we ALL need to hear, I think. Definitely convicted me. The cluelessness of the women was breathtaking to me, but I'm sure it's accurate. A good read.
Sheri Gordon12/07/07
Wow. This is a real eye-opener. How often are our "prayer concerns" really gossip? You did a good job of showing this in your story.
Karen Wilber 12/07/07
Oh this is excellent - from title to final sentence. Such a good story built around the proverb and excellent characterization. And realistic too. Don't give up Miss Constance.
Lynda Schultz 12/08/07
Ouch! That hurt. Unfortunately, all to often true. Great job at dealing with an important point.
Verna Cole Mitchell 12/09/07
This is so well done. I loved it. Message given, but not received, in the content of the story, but received in the readers' hearts.
Janice Cartwright12/13/07
Love those names! :D

I too have experienced the malaise of prayer-circle gossip, even to the point of allusions made to someone within the group. Ouch! :(

Thanks for bringing to light issues we all need to watch for. As always, your characters are lively and authentic.