Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: The Church (12/06/07)
TITLE: Calvary Bible Church
By Jason James
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Across from the fire, on the other side of the country road, a small crowd gathered in an empty field. Despite the chill air in the late December night, most in the crowd had discarded their heavy coats, warmed by the radiant heat of the blaze, and as they watched, they stood motionless, with barely a word passing between them.
It was ten minutes after midnight, and the fire had only been burning for three hours. John Ford, the gray-haired pastor of Calvary Bible Church had called for the fire department just after 9:00, when he first smelled the smoke in his office, but Calvary was a small church in a small community, and by 9:30 most of the congregation had been called with the news.
From across the road, the red and white lights of the fire engine swept across the surrounding trees, and a cascade of water fell across the steep shingled roof of the church. Even so, the flames continued to leap and lash against the winter sky, and through the broken stained-glass windows, the congregation watched as orange-white embers devoured the blackened skeleton of their church. Then, with a low groan, the roof collapsed, and a second explosion of sparks scattered into the night.
Slowly, Bill Campbell, chief of the fire department and a serving deacon at Calvary Bible, walked across the empty road toward the onlookers. Pastor Ford took a step forward to meet him. They talked for a minute in low whispers, and then John Ford turned back to face his congregation.
He opened his mouth, ready to speak, but when no sound came, he bowed his head and began again, “The first house of God wasn’t much more than this. It was a tent out in the desert. And Jesus Christ, the son of God, was born in a stable with the animals, and laid down in a manger for his bed. Now Bill just told me . . . He just told me . . .,” but the next words caught in his throat, and Pastor Ford bowed his head again.
Then, very softly, someone started to sing, “Silent night. Holy night,” and with the next line of the hymn, everyone gathered joined their voices, and as the words of “Silent Night” rose into the still December air, and as Calvary Bible fell into ashes and embers, the church of God endured.
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