Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Selfishness (02/14/05)
TITLE: The Sound of Sin
By Susan Klein
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At the park they walked quickly to the butterfly garden. Among the brightly blooming flowers they would be recognized. It was appropriate. Without their donation the park wouldn’t have a butterfly garden. Today the newspapers would take their picture and put it on the front page. Then there would be no wondering why the gardens were named for them. Everyone would know. The camera crew lined them up with the city manager and mayor. “Smile.” He puffed up his chest and she lifted her chin. Click.
They lingered for awhile. Everyone showed so much appreciation. “We never could’ve done this without you,” the mayor’s wife had said. The mayor himself had announced, “this generous donation will be honored forever in a stone marker placed at the garden entrance.” They had received handshakes and smiles of appreciation. What a wonderful feeling to give.
They rode home in silence each lost in their own feelings of self satisfaction and wondering what they could give next.
The next month their church began looking at expansion plans. The youth had outgrown their space and an adult bible study was in need of a place to meet. An annex to the Sunday school wing made great sense. Quickly they offered a large donation. Knowing others might not give as much as they should they made theirs a matching donation. They would match whatever amount was raised within the congregation.
The project was important and many donated. The church was able to complete the annex and even purchase a nice plaque of appreciation to commemorate the generosity of the couple. The newspaper came to the first youth gathering. The couple, with the minister and youth group leader faced the cameras. “Smile.” He puffed up his chest and tilted his face just slightly and she lifted her chin and stood a little taller. Click.
As they left, each parent personally thanked them with at least a smile.
They rode home in silence feeling less appreciated than they expected and wanting something more. The next project would have to be bigger, something more significant.
A new theatre was being planned for the community. It would be a place for plays and orchestras, concerts and comedians, pageants and holiday extravaganzas. There would be a grand stage and orchestra pit, velvet chairs and a balcony. This was significant. A large donation might even get their names on the cornerstone of the building. They immediately offered another matching donation. Matching donations were the only way to get some people to give what they should. They also decided to make a few conditions this time. Some kinds of music were just immoral and shouldn’t be allowed in a building bearing their good name. Comedians too. Some were just unacceptable. Of course, there would have to be a dress code for patrons including their personal grooming habits. The wrong kinds of people shouldn’t be allowed. It wasn’t asking too much, after all, without their donation it wouldn’t be there for anyone.
At the grand opening the proud couple arrived by chauffer. In his new tuxedo he stepped onto the red carpet with her by his side. Her diamond necklace caught a ray of sunlight and reflected in the glass door of the theatre. They looked at each other and smiled.
Inside the newspaper and televisions crews arranged a grand setting for pictures and interviews. Even the governor had come. Pompous words were spoken and hands shaken. He straightened his bow tie and held his head high. She adjusted her necklace and stepped slightly in front of the governor. “Smile.” Click.
The sound echoed. His shoulders slumped a little more. God asked quietly, “Son, is the weight too much?” Jesus, burdened with clanging metal spikes answered, “no, Father, I’ll carry their sins for them until they repent and are forgiven. I love them that much.”
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.” Philippians 2:3 (NIV)
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