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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Outlandish (05/19/11)

TITLE: Trashcan Worship
By Ruth Neilson


Elmira Murphy was livid. She couldn’t believe that her lifelong church had released the Minister of Music who'd been there for the last thirty years, only to replace the sweet man with some upstart child who didn't even look like she could have graduated high school. And what was worse, the young lady not only had almost shorn her hair off, but had dyed hot pink, purple, and blue streaks through the remains of her locks. This outlandish behavior simply wouldn't do.

And Elmira wasn't about to let it be.

She sniffed and stalked across the kitchen floor, banging pots and pans, hoping that her near deaf husband would hear the cacophony and come to see what was bothering her. He could fix this disaster—after all; he was the longest standing deacon on the board.

Whatever happened to the decorum in the church? Elmira wondered, as she rapidly dumped water into a pot. She sniffed again, this time thinking about the music that the new Minister of Music had brought in. It was nothing like the hymns that they had sung for the past fifty years. The spoke the gospel as plan as could be. If the younger generation couldn't understand it, well, maybe they should brush up on some of their vocabulary.

Now this drumming thing? That was the devil's music. It was literally nothing more than a bunch of banging on a trash can and clicking sticks together. Perfect for the young group, maybe, but not for a call to worship. This was simply outlandish; and Elmira wasn't going to stand for it.

With a loud clank, she dropped the lid onto the pan. The Ladies Auxiliary would be arriving at anytime, then she'll be able to talk about this outlandish behavior, and hopefully they will all be in agreement and might even be able to come up with some sort of a plan as to how to guide this poor new girl to the right path.

Right on cue, the doorbell rang immediately followed by small talk as the ladies filed in. Elmira smirked as her friends filed into the kitchen, each one carrying a Tupperware containers filled with some sort of delightful concoction.

The ladies where already happily chattering about the service earlier that day. Discussing who had worn what and generally whatever the pastor had said. Graciously, Elmira set to work pouring glasses of sweetened tea.

Patiently, Elmira played hostess, waiting her moment to broach the topic of the eccentric behavior from their new Minister of Music. Finally, the perfect moment came.

"Ladies, I'm concerned about the new addition to the pastoral staff at our church." Elmira began, and she began to explain her concerns and fears. The conversation was accompanied only by the soft sounds of a light lunch being consumed.

"Elmira," Anne tentatively spoke up, pausing Elmira's rant mid-word. "I know that you are worried about how strange all of this stuff is, but we where young once. And we were all rebels to some degree or another. Even your favorite hymns could be considered outlandish at some point in time. Personally, I enjoyed the drumming, and what the young lady said was correct. A storm can be God teaching us to be still and listen to His voice."

Elmira felt her jaw drop open and she tried to stammer some sort of come back as Anne calmly began to clean up as she continued in the same mild tone, "I am honestly surprised with you, of all people, plotting behind your own pastoral staff to get rid of what could very well be the best thing to happen to our church."

Anne continued as she gathered her things, "Now, excuse me, ladies. I've had about enough of this behavior today."

Elmira watched helplessly as one of her closest friends stood and left without a second glance back.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Janice Cartwright05/27/11
I caught something here I think you threw: a double [or perhaps even triple] entendre in your message? Who was really the outlandish one in the story? The new music minister or Elmira? Or maybe even Anne in Elmira's surprised surmise after her rebuke. At any rate, nice twist and good character development within word limit.
Bonnie Bowden 05/28/11
It is too bad that music is splitting churches apart. I like all types of music from traditional to contemporary. The only problem I have is when the words of the song are not clear.

One sentence was a little confusing. When you were talking about hymns--the message was plan as could be (paraphrase).

You packed a lot of punch in such a limited amount of space.
Sydney Avey05/29/11
I sing in a choir and sit on the deacon board, and don't we have the drum discussion often. I loved the the line that resolved the issue -- A storm can be God teaching us to be still and listen to His voice."
This piece could benefit from proofreading; one example -- this spoke the gospel as plan as good be. LOVED the title -- the old trashing the young