Monday, October 30, 2006

The Homecoming

The old man slipped his trousers on and pulled the suspenders over his shoulders. His fingers hardly bent as he struggled to dress. Fumbling with the shoe strings for several minutes prompted him to simply tuck them neatly into the sides of his shoes.
Snatching his cane from the closet the man walked down the hospital hallway and out the front door. Not one person paid him any mind. He flagged a cab and handing the driver a crumpled piece of paper with the address, he slid into the seat and closed the door.
"This old place?" questioned the driver. "t's been closed for years."
"That's the place. First Christian Church of Mabrey Street," replied the old man with a smile. "That's the one."
"Whatever you say, old man." With that the driver twisted around in his seat and shifted the car into gear.
Once they arrived at the church the driver asked if he should wait.
"No need. Here's your money. I'll be fine. I've got someone coming to pick me up." The man ached as he climbed from the car and ambled up the walkway. It took him several minutes to climb the five steps to the front porch, but he made it. Short on breath, his head began to spin.
"Just a little further," he said as he shoved the door open with his cane.
As soon as the man could see inside the church, his senses went wild. He poked through the cobwebs and before his eyes the sanctuary began to transform. The dusty planked floor regained its brilliant luster, and the pews glowed with the look of fresh white paint. The windows sparkled as the sun shone through the yellow panes giving the room a soft warm color.
He walked to the front and stepped up to the pulpit, then rubbing his hands across the marble top, a tear dripped from his cheek. Glancing toward the piano he could hear old Mrs. Hutson banging away at When the Roll Is Called Up Yonder, and suddenly his ears tuned into the choir singing to the out-of-tune melody.
On the front row materialized Josh Henderson and his son Adam. Two rows back on the left, the Anderson sisters, and one row over, Mabel and Harry Martin. The pews overflowed with people as the man reminisced of a time when the church was filled to capacity.
He seated himself in the tall-backed chair behind the pulpit and pulled a pocket-sized New Testament from his coat. Flipping through the pages he found the scripture he'd longed to read aloud. The man tilted his head toward the ceiling and spied the cross which hung on the wall over the baptistery. A smilled parted his lips as he closed his eyes and lifted his arms.
"I've come home Lord. Your faithful servant has come home. I preached from this pulpit for forty-eight years. Now my body is old and fading. I'm home."
A breeze blew open the front door, rushing around him and caressing him as if the arms of Jesus had pulled him close. The preacher dropped his arms to his side and blew out his last breath.
"Well done, good and faithful servant. Welcome home."
Will you hear the words of Matthew 25:21? "The Master replied,'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!"