Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: SKELETON IN THE CLOSET (11/30/17)
- TITLE: Dirty Little Secrets
By Phillip Cimei
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Whispers, being muffled by the cupped hands of the members, verified that something or someone had pushed Larry to the max. Larry was their pastor and today would fulfill what Paul said should be done in this circumstance—reprove, rebuke and exhort.
Larry wiped his brow with the now soaked handkerchief his wife had given him, His head started to bob up and down as the singing of—Open the eyes my heart Lord…I want to see you—caused his chest to puff out anxious sighs.
Larry stood up, slid his King James Bible with its scuffed cover and tattered pages into the pit of his arm. He turned to the audience. Not a word spoken. He then reached down, grabbed the handle of a CD player, and walked briskly to the podium. He raised his eyes to the audience as he pushed the play button. He wasn’t shocked by their reaction.
The whimpering babies became hushed, the restless children, with saucer eyes and dropped jaws, fixated on the music. The song made Sister Ruth let out an, “Oh my!” and Elder Richard, “Humph,” when the last words to Jeannie C. Riley’s Harper Valley PTA ended with, “Your nothing more than Harper Valley Hypocrites,” Larry elaborated about the song for those too young to recognize it and for those unfamiliar with its message.
“A widow woman’s child came home with a note from her school’s PTA,” said Larry. “It pointed out the mother’s short skirt, wild living and poor influence on her child. The woman went to the PTA meeting and then pointed out some of THEIR dirty little secrets.
Larry went on to say that Jesus played that song—in a different way—2000 years ago to some professing followers of God who wanted to stone a woman who had committed adultery. Jesus said let the one without any dirty little secrets cast the first stone. Larry, with quivering lips and tears in his eyes, asked, “Have we cast the first stone?”
“Look around,” he said as he scanned the audience with his finger. “That young family that chose you as a model to begin a new life, a fresh start, is not here today.” He continued telling them how he saw the father at the local restaurant and what the father revealed to him. The members looked around at each other with puzzled looks.
“He told me that his family was poor and he was having a hard time getting a job because he had spent time in prison for doing drugs. He was fortunate enough to meet the prison Chaplin who converted him while doing his six-month stay. He wanted to begin anew. The Chaplin recommended this church and shared how loving and forgiving we were.” The members squirmed a little and shoulders started drooping.
“He told me that your disparaging comments about him and his family filtered to him through his children who overheard your whispers—how tattered their clothes were, how he was a criminal and wouldn’t be a good influence on his own as well as the church members children, and one even said, To think he wants to help with Vacation Bible School. Tears welled up in Larry’s eyes as members lowered their heads in shame.
The next service Larry sits again staring forward on the front pew. But this time he sits in an empty building. No inspiring music, no fidgety children, crying babies or skeptical members. A rustling at the back catches Larry’s attention. He turned to see Elder Jim, “Come with me,” Jim said.
Larry got up and followed Jim to his car. A short ride later they came upon an old run-down house in the poor section of town. Outside, the whole congregation was busy: windows being washed, a coat of paint, tables spread with food for all, and the rejected family’s children clad in new clothes. The members purchased them along with toys and other family needs.
Jim rested his arm on Larry’s shoulder and said, “God used you to help us see we all have dirty little secrets. We humbly asked God and this family’s forgiveness.” The angels in heaven rejoiced.
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