Stadium Saints - E ... The Pulpiteer & the Vagrant


(Please read the brief Introduction if you are not familiar with the flow of this series.)

The unseen station of the observer, suspended high above the stadium, guaranteed nothing could escape his attention. A 360 degree panorama was always available.

The ancient mausoleum to worship, still so grand in its visual impact, had truly become a catacomb for the living. Faith was no longer fed, the Spirit of worship was never invited and the aggrandizement of the pulpiteer had become the order of the day.

With diligence, each living corpse devoured a message unsurpassed in practiced eloquence. It would salve their eager ears and caress their conscience. The unpalatable and undesirable native truth of Christ was unavailable week by week.

With the flourish of outstretched arms and his gown jostling with his brisk movements, the pulpiteer had won the heart of the attenders. This weekly delivery of comfort and ease coalesced, indeed meshed with Arrogance, Pride and Ritual seated so reliably in the pews.

Confrontation to the gathered few with the undeniable claims of faith was always carefully avoided. There were no ears itching to hear the ancient story and live the ancient truths.

Only the margins of faith were reflected in the pulpiteer's prose that never knew or could deliver the body and depths of faith.

Every Sunday, the observer studied the beaming face of this self-sufficient pulpiteer who would never disturb the equilibrium within this mausoleum.

The weekly message-without-substance permitted the uncomfortable to wander hopelessly in distraction, and the marginalized remained at the edge. Both would remain on the outside.

At the times the Groom stood “invisibly” in the doorway, He would listen to the message of tolerance and love, but never heard an invitation to the lost nor to Him.

Seated on a well worn stone pedestal nearby, a scruffy vagrant would engage the eyes of all who would look at him. There were only a few.

The Groom saw the vagrant too. His eyes were as full of sorrow as the vagrant's were of tears.

Leaving the mausoleum and living corpses behind Him (His presence never noticed, so neither would His absence be), the Groom glided silently over to the vagrant. His scarred, open palms outstretched as He gazed tenderly into the vagrant's painful eyes. This made the vagrant most uncomfortable. No one had ever looked at him like this.

The vagrant recalled his mother's fiery eyes of anger and resentment. He held no recollection at all of hisfather's eyes. Any passerby that chanced a glimpse gazed at him through glazed eyes, yet the Groom looked through his eyes to his soul.

While the pulpiteer paraded his preparation and performed flawlessly yet again, the Groom saw the stricken soul with the shame-sealed heart. The Groom's eyes wandered across a spirit of wounding from countless unjust wars. Most of these wars the vagrant had been pushed into with no defense and massive vulnerability. The wars had begun in the womb. He had never known peace.

In the sterile purity of the mausloeum, the Groom was about to be offered prayer. He cared little for the prayer, but greatly for the poverty before Him. They had sung His praise but shunned His presence.

As the vagrant examined the Groom's eyes, he realised that the Groom's eyes were becoming moist. He then felt a silver sliver of love dampen his cheek. The vagrant was now moved as he had never been before--not only had he seen love, but he had literally felt it.

The vagrant now completely unsure of himself, did not take the Groom's proferred palm, but rather fell at the Groom's pierced feet. Tenderly and tearfully the Groom raised the vagrant and softly embraced him. The vagrant felt even greater discomfort, but also a fresh joy, the warmth and kindness were so new. Completely unnoticed, the observer also wept.

Within sight of the mausoleum they embraced while the pulpiteer stood at the entrance, silently and eagerly awaiting his spirit to be stroked yet again. He did not know, but all his preaching was simply for himself. His preparation, prayer and performance all to assuage his spirit. As he stood expectantly in the warmth of the late morning sun, he had been ever seeing, but never understanding. He had seen the Groom and the vagrant but simply turned his head.

As the short line of living corpses dutifully and respectfully meandered through the door, the pulpiteer received his stroking, he was well again. Pride and Ritual had been particularly faithful. Some of the corpses peered slightly farther afield. They witnessed the Groom's embrace of the vagrant. They “tut-tutted” while musing some self-righteous reflections about cleanliness and laziness.

With this final scene, the observer was now welling in fury as much as He had welled in tears. The corpses that had just prayed to the Groom had now criticized the Groom. The vagrant who did not know the Groom had fallen at His feet.

The Groom's heart had been sliced by these corpses and broken by the vagrant's.

The Groom now deliberately stood with His back to the mausoleum and His face to the poor.


8th January 2010 ... James 2:1-6a


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