Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: AGREE TO DISAGREE (05/04/17)
TITLE: Of GOD and SIN
By Holly Westefeld
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I open the door, not surprised to see the smiling faces and crisp uniforms of Government Oneness Division squad members. "Good morning. How may I assist you today."
"Good morning. We are here to repurpose this building as a community unity center, and escort you to your apartment for installation of Secure Complete Unity Monitors. We then recommend visiting the Center for Advancing and Repurposing Employment."
"I realize that the Constitution may not have been covered extensively in your training, but the Fifth Amendment requires just compensation for private property that is "repurposed" for public use."
The squad looks shocked. "What greater compensation could you desire than to know that this facility will benefit the unity of this community?"
"On that, my dear citizens, we must agree to disagree. I trust that I will have time to remove personal belongings?"
"We have little time to spare, but you may gather what you can carry."
Fortunately, I had already removed most of my library, so I gather my remaining books and photos, and pick up my commlet. Exiting through the outer office, my mind's eye places Frances behind the bare desk, her smile always genuine, unlike the ones that I face now. The side door clicks behind me, and I resist the urge to emulate Lot's wife.
Though my apartment is within walking distance, the squad directs me to their official vehicle, which glides to a stop in my allotted slot, unused in years. They follow me inside with several boxes, where I sink onto the sofa, belongings scattering across my lap and the cushions. They place monitors to cover the living space, then move on to the bedroom and bathroom.
Returning, the taller one recites the script. "The monitors operate with or without light, day and night, for your safety, and the safety and unity of the community. The bathroom monitor only transmits audio, but the others cover its door. Removing or interfering with monitors will be presumed to indicate involvement in a Subversive Intolerance Network, resulting in relocation to a Justice And Integration Laboratory."
They hand me a copy of the notification to sign, but I write in script: "This practice violates the Constitution."
The younger one glances at it, furrowing his brow. "Wow! That's a long name."
I just smile.
I do not go to the Center for Advancing and Repurposing Employment, but head for my closet instead, pushing aside my scant wardrobe and dropping to my knees.
"Dear Lord, what am I to do now about shepherding this small flock of your body? The government may give lip service to freedom of religion, but that is increasingly only true if one's religion merely consists of being polite to everyone and helping the less fortunate, though the redistribution of wealth renders that unnecessary. I am trying to hold to the premise that You tarry because there are more people to reach with the Gospel, but it has been so long since I, or my little flock, have seen that happen. Please give me wisdom and courage. In Jesus name. Amen."
I leave the closet and apartment, circling through the community to visit my fellow believers. Angela offers her yet unmonitored single-family home to meet, so I cycle back through, instructing the brothers and sisters to arrive in pairs about five minutes apart.
When we are all gathered, I do not mince words. "I do not know how much longer we will have together. I urge you not to be ashamed of the Gospel of God's love, sending Jesus to die for our sin. There is salvation in no other name. Please turn with me to Matthew 10:16-21."
Before we can continue, there is a knock at the door. We stare at one another. JJ, who was a deacon while I was still in seminary, shuffles to open the door, smiling back at the squad. His nod toward me, avoiding my eyes, is as potent as any kiss, but my text, fulfilled even sooner than expected, promises that the Spirit will guide me in what to say.
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