The Stranger in the House: Part 3

Part 3. Reserved for Pastors

As the church started to fill up, I could feel myself getting a little nervous. Perhaps, sitting in the front row, wasn’t the best idea. A few minutes later, I realized I wasn’t the only one who second guessed my decision to sit in the front row. A man in a black suit with earphones and a walkie talkie walked over to me with a stern look on his face.

            “Sir, this row is reserved for our pastors.”

            “The whole row?” I asked, taken aback. There were at least twenty-five chairs across the front row.

            “Yes. Our pastors and their families sit on the front row—”

            “But I only need one chair. I’m not saving any seats. If it’s alright, I’ll just go down there and sit on the end.” I said, pointing to the chair on the far right.

            The man frowned and said, “You can’t sit there. That’s the senior pastor’s chair, but you can sit toward the back or in the balcony. There’s plenty of seating back there.”

            “Well, if it’s alright, I would like to sit in the second row—”

            “Sorry. Our deacons sit in the second row with their families—”

            “And the third row?”

            “The Sunshine Committee, the Prayer Team, and the Kitchen Committee tend to sit in the third row, but there’s plenty of space in the balcony.” He said, rubbing his finger under his nose. “You’ll probably feel more comfortable up there, anyway. You can grab another doughnut and a cup of coffee to take up there with you if you’d like.”
            Another man with a walkie talkie and a headset walked over and asked if there was a problem. I’d heard that question a time or two. Typically, it was a store manager or a security guard when I lingered too long, in an attempt to get warm or freshen up in their restroom, but never in a church.

            Growing up, in my grandma’s church, every guest was treated like family. Boy had things changed! Now the church had security guards, who treated their guest like they didn’t belong in the house of the Lord. I wonder what my grandma would say about that, God rest her soul.

            As the pastors and their families began to fill the front row, I realized that the security guards were right. Every seat was taken. There was no room for someone like me in the front row, so I gave up and followed him to the balcony.

             As a curtesy, he brought me a doughnut and a cup of coffee. I would have appreciated it more if I didn’t feel like he gave it to me, so I would stay put during the service.

            It was obvious that I wasn’t welcomed. No one shook my hand or even sat near me, but they knew where I was every second. I could feel them watching me, judging me.

            I have to go. I thought. I could feel that itch. That itch that only a fix could scratch. As I tried to stand up, something kept me in that chair. I tried to fight it, but it was stronger than I was. So, I had no choice. I had to surrender to its will.

            As the choir sang, I noticed the same people, who wouldn’t speak to me or shake my hand, were the same people standing to their feet and raising their hands to the Lord. It was hard for me to take them seriously, so I just closed my eyes and kept listening.

            The choir didn’t sound anything like it did when I was a child. I felt like I was in a concert that I couldn’t afford.

            Then, I heard a powerful male voice, asking people to stand to their feet. I didn’t look around. I just stood up and waited for the next thing to come out of his mouth.

#To Be Continued#

#Soul Searching Shory Story#