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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Banquet - deadline 8-16-12 10 am NY time (08/09/12)

TITLE: The 25th Annual Pastor Appreciation Banquet
By Tim Pickl
08/11/12


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After months of planning and preparation for The 25th Annual Pastor Appreciation Banquet, the big day was finally here. Two dozen aluminum pans heaped with hot and cold food were catered in for the event, along with three long tables piled high with delectable desserts. Folding tables covered with crisp, white cloths filled the local High School gymnasium, along with silverware settings for 500 guests.

The planners decorated the gym with a silver theme for the 25th year, similar to a wedding anniversary celebration. They fully expected saints and former saints (who had moved on to other churches) and their families to show up by the dozens. Unfortunately the planners decided to have the Banquet on a holiday weekend in the summer, and most of the saints decided not to show up.

A reminder text message blast was sent out to everyone that morning.

“Reminder: Pastor Appreciation Banquet today! Come on out, everything’s ready!”

But what happened next is text message responses filled with excuses poured in, even as the last of the chairs were being set up.

“We’re away on vacation. Sorry.”

“We just bought a new property up north, we need to go and see it today. Sorry about that.”

“Oh, I completely forgot about it. Just got a new tractor and need to test it. I hope you understand.”

“We just got married a month ago. We’re way too busy. Thanks.”

A remnant of about 50 saints did show up, along with the planners and volunteers who already there, sweating, working.

As time went by, the excuses mounted up higher than a city dump. The head planner became angry, and made an announcement. “Apparently most of the people we’ve invited are too busy to bother honoring the Pastor who has sacrificed so much for them. We simply cannot waste all of this food. I’m asking you now for a favor: Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind. Are you with me?”

The remnant of saints and volunteers responded with a resounding, unified “Yes!”

The gymnasium rapidly filled up with a hundreds of hungry souls. Many of them were homeless, and thankful for the sustenance. One homeless woman was a mother with a baby, wrapped in a blanket. The mother had no diapers for the infant; and when one of the remnant saints saw this—a young mother herself who was blessed with many things, including diapers—she gave the homeless mother all she had.

“Thank you. Thank you so much. You have no idea how wonderful this is.”

One of the volunteers reported to the head planner, “We still have about 100 seats free—there is still room.”

The head planner gathered together and asked a chosen few of the faithful remnant saints, “We need to fill this place before the Pastor arrives. Go out into the highways and the suburbs with the hedged-in homes and compel them to come here for the Banquet. They should be able to drive themselves here.”

Dutifully the saints went out and within a short time, the gymnasium was filled. There was an air of excitement as the din of noisy discussions incrementally escalated, echoing off the gym walls.

Just before the appointed time for the Pastor to arrive, the head planner stepped up to the stage and powered on the wireless microphone. “May I have your attention please?” She had to repeat herself a few times. “Welcome to The 25th Annual Pastor Appreciation Banquet. In just a few minutes—at the top of the hour—the Pastor will walk through those doors. This entire Banquet is a surprise to him. So when he walks in, I want you all to yell—”

One of the poor people interrupted by yelling out, “SURPRISE!

The gymnasium was filled with joyful laughter.

“Yes, exactly like that. We want our Pastor to be surprised and blessed. Thank you all for coming today. You are a blessing to us: we enjoy serving you.”

Just like clockwork, the Pastor and his wife walked in the doors at the top of the hour. The gymnasium erupted with the planned Surprise! welcome, along with raucous clapping, whistling and cheering. The couple stood there in shock, holding each other, with tears streaming down their faces. Two volunteers went to them and hugged them and took their coats.

The Pastor went on stage.

“Wow! This event reminds me of a Bible story.”






+++

Reference: Luke 14:1-27 (KJV)


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This article has been read 348 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Camille (C D) Swanson 08/16/12
Wow - powerful story. It touched me on many levels. Great job with the topic.

It seemed God had "other plans for that day," and so it was carried out in a timely manner! God knew all along what needed to be done. Loved this.

I wonder if this is a true story? True or not, it is something that serves as a timely reminder that we can reach out to others at every opportunity.

Thank you. God Bless~
Hiram Claudio08/17/12
A great way to weave a very realistic and plausible scenario (if not actually true) from the well known bible parable. This was well written and flowed nicely. I think you could have gotten away without referring to the church working repeatedly as "saints" but that's a minor thing. Very well done!
Genia Gilbert08/18/12
Great point made from a biblical principle. Good writing.
Patsy Hallum08/18/12
As one of the "saints" in our church, I am so familiar with the "excuses". Thanks for a great story. Keep writing for the Lord~
Noel Mitaxa 08/19/12
A very clever "parallelable" - to coin a phrase - that exposes the excuses that we can so often hear and use. Great job.
Leola Ogle 08/20/12
Excellent job! I love this, a familiar Bible story that came alive in a new, fresh way. Well written. God bless!
Edmond Ng 08/21/12
A familiar Bible story brought up to date! Interesting read.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 08/22/12
This is a delightful, modern retelling of the familiar parable. You did a wonderful job of setting up the scene and the characters.

I did notice some sentences were a bit awkward like this one: But what happened next is text message responses filled with excuses poured in, even as the last of the chairs were being set up.
Just by rearranging it some it tightens up the sentence -- Even before the last chair was in position, the texts, filled with excuses, started to pour in.
The other red ink I have is your ending. Because the pastor wasn't involved in the invitations, he wouldn't know that last minute guest had been secured. Though he may have been able to guess by looking around the room, that could come off as being judgmental.

However, even with those tiny things you did a marvelous job with this story. I've read a few this week based on the same scripture but what I really liked about yours was how you modernized it. By doing that, you make the story relatable to more people. You did a beautiful job of writing on topic while still delivering a message that everyone needs to hear. This was a fun and nourishing read and I thoroughly enjoyed it.