Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: At the Pulpit (11/15/07)
TITLE: In the Light of the Cross
By Sharlyn Guthrie
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How, you might ask, did a cacophonous field cricket make his home in the pulpit of Christ Community church? Truth is I was hatched in the flower garden outside. Chirp chirp. I found my way here in search of food. Chirp chirp. There’s a lifetime supply of peanuts in front of this dusty hymnal, plus half a cherry-flavored cough drop for my sweet tooth. Chirp chirp.
Light streams in through the cut-out cross, which also provides me with a grand view of the congregation. Chirp chirp. The cross is a common sight here, although I’m not sure why. The old hymnal has a cross on its cover; a humongous gold cross stretches from the rafters to the platform behind the pulpit; and a red cross gleams from each stained glass window. Many of the congregants wear a cross on their lapel or necklace. Chirp chirp. Even so, I have never once heard mention of it from the pulpit.
It seems to me that people come here to feel good. Chirp chirp. They shake hands, sing happy songs, and listen to The Reverend speak of their goodness. Smiles grace their faces –whether heartfelt or simply what’s expected, I can’t tell. Chirp chirp.
The Reverend speaks in soothing tones. Chirp chirp. He speaks of human kindness, saving the planet, and feeding the poor. The men nod off. Their wives elbow them. Chirp chirp. Obediently they straighten, and a placid smile quickly returns to their faces.
Okay, no more chirping. The music has stopped. A feeble old preacher in a pin-striped suit is making his way to the platform. Where’s The Reverend?
“Good morning. I’ll be filling in for your minister today. Please take the Bible that’s in front of you and turn to Hebrews chapter twelve.” Curious glances are exchanged as the preacher awaits a response. “Verses two and three say, ‘Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.’”*
“Today, my friends, let us fix our eyes on Jesus. Let us look at the cross as we have never seen it before –not the gleaming crosses that adorn our sanctuary, but the cross we find here, in God’s holy Word...”
Whoa! The pounding on the pulpit nearly sent me sailing through my peek-hole. I’ll be safer up here on the hymnal. This is great! Nobody’s dozing this morning. Their eyes are wide open. They’re not exactly smiling, either. This is getting interesting.
“…That cross is hard. It is ugly and offensive. It endures through the ages to remind us of the awful price that was paid for our sins. Jesus laid down his life on that cross for you and for me.”
Did you hear something?
There it is again. Now that’s a new word around here!
“…Maybe you need to make your way to this altar and kneel at the foot of the cross. Confess your sins. Claim the power that is yours in Jesus Christ. Then take up your cross and follow Him. Praise God! Hallelujah!”
Hey! Careful! I nearly lost my balance. What’s happening? People are on their feet. They’re moving toward the front. Tears have replaced their peaceful smiles. Yikes! That Bible thumping preacher just dumped me off the hymnal.
“When I survey the wondrous cross…” his ancient voice quivers with emotion. “…on which the Prince of glory died,” several others join in. Band members leaf through song sheets, looking mighty confused. “My richest gain I count but loss, and pour contempt on all my pride.”**
Amazing! How could everyone sit here surrounded by crosses week after week and forget a story like that? Then again, why would a common field cricket hide himself inside a pulpit, denying himself fresh air, plump grain, and starry skies? How could I have settled for stale peanuts and a half-eaten cough drop?
Suddenly, basking in the light of the cross, I’ve made a decision. Chirp chirp.
*Hebrews 12:2-3 (NIV)
**”When I Survey the Wondrous Cross” hymn by Isaac Watts
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