Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: ENTERTAIN (04/27/17)
- TITLE: Shallow or Hallowed?
By Marlene Bonney
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Coach Andy, the senior head honcho, was in his state-of-the-art plush suite being prepped by his personal make-up guru.
â€œNO, James! That way shows my bald spot. How many times do I have to remind you to part my hair on the LEFT side?â€ clearly impatient as he squirmed under the hired hands like a petulant child.
Andrew donned his immaculately tailored leather jacket before briskly entering the staging room adjacent to the videographers platform. Checking the teleprompter to make sure it was properly connected, Andrew cringed at the memory of a botched talk show interview when aâ€”now, since firedâ€”subordinate had damaged the cord and Andrew had relied on his considered charisma-to-the-rescue mode.
I wouldnâ€™t be long now. The band was tuning their instruments and the muted sounds of voices, laughter, high-fives, and crying babies wafted through a louvered state door like a released smoke bomb. Out in the gymnasium, the music rose into base-thumping rhythm, accompanying the praise chorus words flashing across three strategically-positioned screens up in front. Most in the audience were clapping and gyrating to the beat while still others raised their voices to compete with the microphoned talented musicians.
â€œJust five more minutes, Coach,â€ a prompter whispered in Andrewâ€™s earplug. . ., â€œandâ€”youâ€™re ON!â€
Wild applause broke out as the middle-aged actor-turned-evangelist entered the filled arena. Theatrically holding his hands up for silence,
His message that morning, compacted like a squeezed accordion, was fifteen minutes long, the drama complimenting his comments taking up the bulk of the production. S-A-S (short and sweet) was the coachâ€™s motto, so he omitted the typical churchâ€™s Bible reading.
â€œNow, do all the good you can, to as many as you can, for as long as you can,â€ he admonished, â€œBut because you all have such busy schedules, (the jugglers prancing in the background) we ask that you fund our ministry teams to go out in your place. Please give to God generously in the buckets as you leave your rows. And remember that â€˜To him who gives, much will be given!â€™ â€
The service concluded and the busy people left with salved conscious's, to their busy schedules of sports and shopping and family excursions and play-dates. . .
Across town, in a small church sanctuary lined with precious stained-glass windows dedicated to previous saints of their congregation, a humble pastor knelt at the sun-kissed altar, pleading for the Holy Spiritâ€™s presence in the morningâ€™s service. Mrs. Gaines, the organist, would arrive shortly to warm up the aged and scarred organ. Like an old gentlemanâ€™s hearing aid, it tended to blare in and out at unexpected intervals. Pew Bibles and hymnals, weekly dusted by volunteers, were placed on each pew in preparation for Pastor Barnesâ€™ sermon and for the upcoming songs to be led by a college student of musical studies. (He would also sing a special solo during the offertory.)
Save for the stained glass windows, there were no embellishments, no overhead screen, no fancy frills of drama performers to enhance the atmosphere. Yet there was a peaceful holiness felt by each of the parishioners who attended the service. People greeted each other with handshakes or hugs, and tears were shared during prayer time. And, prayer requests were voiced, some through trembling lips and tear-filled eyes. They sang purposefully and simply, their heartfelt words ringing with conviction as they repeated time-revered tunes.
The sermon that morning was based on one of Jesusâ€™ parables that inspired and comforted those in attendance, including wide-eyed children captivated by the scripture of other little ones sitting on Jesusâ€™ lap. Sincerity and truth rang throughout the sacred room as gentle and true as a motherâ€™s caress. Unadorned with flashy props or ear-splitting sound recordings, things were S A S (sweet and simple).
â€œNow, go out, my children, and share the gospel with your friends and neighbors as you daily walk the walk.â€
The service concluded and the busy people left with and burdened hearts to spread the Good News by living their faith out and with comforted spirits from the prayer warriors and scriptural truths they had digested.
Matthew 11:16-19New International Version (NIV)
16Â â€œTo what can I compare this generation? They are like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling out to others:
18Â For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, â€˜He has a demon.â€™ 19Â The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, â€˜Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.â€™ But wisdom is proved right by her deeds.â€
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