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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Easter (05/30/05)

TITLE: The Empty Cross
By Helga Doermer


The visiting evangelist’s voice thundered in the direction of the few congregational members still sitting in their seats, “How can you call yourself a Christian when you are unwilling to be nailed to the cross with the crucified Christ?” His dark eyes glared with barely controlled anger, as he panned the pews and momentarily met Tara’s glance.

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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This article has been read 1027 times
Member Comments
Member Date
darlene hight06/06/05
Very well done! We do indeed serve a risen Christ. No more condemnation.
Anthony Tophoney06/06/05
Good point! Well written too.
Boy, this one hit the nail on the...uh scuse me. Removed the nail from our Savior. Good job!
Sally Hanan06/06/05
Very good. We are now free from the shame which brings condemnation, rather experiencing godly sorrow which brings repentance.
Karen Treharne06/06/05
How true that is! We do serve a risen Lord and the evangelist in your story sure missed the mark, didn't he? Good piece. Yours in Christ
Delores Baber06/08/05
Wow, did your story take me back. I, too, have squirmed in my pew as an evangelist continued making an appeal, leaving the sense that if you don't walk that aisle you are condemned, every single one that dares remain in their seat. I call it a brow-beating invitation. I can't picture our Lord using that approach. But you looked beyond the zeal of the preacher to get "results" to the staggering truth that we serve a risen Savior! Sometimes I get the feeling the preacher is angry at the sheep instead of the devil.
Pat Guy 06/08/05
Bravo! I too was one of few "left standing" steadfast in my faith - but as a young person it's just not done! Well done and well written!
dub W06/08/05
Bravo, Bravo, Bravo! I have nothing further to say.
Judy Anderson06/08/05
Wonderful writing, revealing lesson and uplifting ending. Thank you.
Val Clark06/08/05
A story of courage, well written.
Shari Armstrong 06/09/05
WOW! very powerful!!!!!
Debbie OConnor06/09/05
Very well done. I have endured tirades like the one you describe here. Praise God, He is alive...He is no longer crucified. He is restored. And we are restored in Him.
Linda Germain 06/09/05
Add one more to the throng applauding at the bottom of this page! Excellent.
Suzanne R06/10/05
Ditto! Life is about balance, isn't it. To be aware of our sin but also, and too often forgotten, to be aware of our highly exalted status as forgiven and made new.