The Altar

It was a garden-variety Protestant set up–big ol’ baptistery in the rear, low pile carpeted stage, wood veneer podium, and home-made wooden sign written by an earnest non-native speaker of English,

DO not PLAY on the stage!

I used to speak there once a month for several years. If it was my week to sermonize I would pray first, wait for a topic to surface (unless one was assigned or liturgically evident), then chew on that passage all week. I would research words in original languages, cross-reference key words with other passages, sift through for what it all might mean for us.

I remember speaking on faith, rivers, stones, and children. The process was often exposing, riveting, beautiful, intimate, and met with a regularly dozing deacon or two.

You preach a message and then hope some small smudge of it besmirches the forehead of the listener.

And still I struggle whether anything did.

Anything like–once there was a woman who used to speak in a church where there was an ordinary altar, garden-variety stage, oddly capitalized sign propped upon it.

DO not PLAY on the stage

Sometimes all we need to know about the beauty, splendor, and grace of this dying religion is that the Spirit of the Living God can drive an ordinary man to

Print the words that matter

ALL IN capital letters

For those who are awake

By the end of the sermon.

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