Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Easter (05/30/05)
TITLE: The Empty Cross
By Helga Doermer
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Tara felt a responding anger rising within herself. How long would he go on with his tirade? Wasn’t it enough that eighty percent of the congregation now stood before him? What did he want?
When the evangelist had given the last of his messages that Sunday morning and followed it with an invitation to come to Christ, there was nothing usual in the call. Yet, as people thronged forward, it seemed it wasn’t enough. He continued to admonish the congregation, hounding them to step forward. They came. Wave upon wave of people filled the floor in front of the podium and crowded into the aisles. Still he continued. He chastised those who had not risen, perhaps unaware that they were strong and steadfast in their faith. It seemed he assumed that all humanity, at any moment harbored a sin that needed to be publicly confessed. His voice kept rising with increasing passion deepening to a tone of anger as a handful of people, seemingly unmoved, remained seated. Then came the words intended to induce shame. “How can you call yourself a Christian when you are unwilling to be nailed to the cross with the crucified Christ?”
Tara looked beyond the furiously passionate figure. Her gaze rested on the full-sized wooden cross. It stood in bold relief against the front wall of the sanctuary.
Tara had grown up in the shadow of the cross, a central symbol of the faith into which she had been born. It was here she had come to know her savior and had responded to the call of baptism many years before. As she held it in her gaze she wondered what it was about the evangelist’s condemnatory interrogation that sounded discordant to her ears. Then it struck her.
The cross was empty.
A wave of exaltation rose in Tara as she recognized the source of her dis-ease. ‘Christ is no longer crucified. He is alive. I serve a risen savior.’ The words of Romans 12:1 came to her. ‘. . . Present your bodies as a LIVING sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God . . .’ Tara quietly slipped from the sanctuary and stepped out into the brilliant sunshine of a spring afternoon. She looked toward the heavens and breathed a little prayer. “Thank you my risen Christ for a resurrected life.”
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