Based upon the writing prompt located at A Writing Prompt a Day
He stepped up to the pulpit, his normally steady hands shaking as he set his notes down. While his mouth was dry, he didn’t dare pick up the glass of water that sat waiting for him for fear that he would spill the contents. He looked out at the crowd, standing room only today, and waited for them to quiet down on their own accord before he started. When they had done so he scanned the church one more time and found the eyes of Miranda Hutchins. Her eyes were filled with sorrow and pain, fear and sympathy, but most of all, filled with love. He straightened up, wiped the sweat from his brow, cleared his throat, and began his last sermon.
“Thank you for coming out today. The Lord has blessed us with a beautiful spring morning so I won’t keep you long as I am sure that you have gardening and barbecues to work on today.” A few chuckles came from the congregation as he knew a number of them had standing afternoon beer parties on Sundays after church having been at a few of them himself.
“I wanted to talk to you about something that exists within each of us and drives us to do strange and miraculous things. I wanted to talk about love. I’m sure that you’ve heard me talk about 1 Corinthians before, but let me repeat myself one last time.”
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
“Love endures.” He moved away from the podium, his voice becoming louder, carrying to the far corners of the church as the emotion took over.
“Love is what keeps us going from day to day. It is the driving force for some of mankind’s greatest acheivements and it is the glue that holds families together. Love is the greatest of gifts that God has given us. The ability to love. The experience of love. As 1 Corinthians states, if you have not loved you are nothing and have gained nothing. All of your faith and hope mean nothing if you don’t have love.”
“I want you to look around at your family and friends and know that there is love in this church. There is a deep and abiding love from the other members of this church for you and from God, for you. You are not unloved. Each and every one of you are part of the reason why this church is so strong. Your love is the foundation upon which this church sits and that foundation will never be broken!”
“Amen,” said many of the parishioners, their excitement building with his oration.
“I have seen this love in action. I have seen you care for each other in times of need and sorrow and raise each other on your shoulders in times of happiness. I have seen acts of devotion that have brought me to tears and have seen commitment and love that has taken me to my knees. I have prayed with you and for you.”
He paused as his throat closed up. He went back to the podium, reached for the water and was pleasantly surprised that his hand was steady. He took a sip of water and looked towards heaven. “Thank you,” he whispered, confident that his newfound strength was a sign from above.
He stepped away from the podium and sat down on the top step leading to the altar. He was still higher than the congregation so they could still see him. He was noticeably quieter as he continued, forcing the parishioners to concentrate on what he was saying.
“In the midst of prayer I came to the realization that there was something missing from my life. Something so core that my life, so full of meaning and duty and love for my fellow man, felt empty. While I felt love, it was an empty love. The love one feels for a good book or a good beer.”
“So I prayed. I prayed for God to show me what to do. I prayed for an answer to my question of whether or not I will truly find love. He answered my prayers.”
He stood back up, walked back to the podium and faced his congregation. Faced his friends. Faced his love.
“I have come here today to tender my resignation as your spiritual leader.” The crowd gasped and started talking, but he continued and they quieted down quickly. “I am tendering my resignation because God has answered my prayers and he sent me someone that I could love and who loves me in return. Not for what I am, but for who I am. I am tendering my resignation while I discover what lies in store for my future. What lies in store for me … and my wife.”
The congregation erupted but he merely looked at Miranda, saw the tears of joy, smiled and then left the altar.