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The New Life Church

new life church

I saw this while out on a walk.

The New Life Church was old. But not that old. Old enough to be weary, but not old enough to have special status of any kind. To be preserved, or conserved, or such. That’s what it had heard, through the ears of its walls. That’s what it had picked up, over the years, in the dribs and drabs of conversations between the priest and his various helpers.

To be honest, the church was sick of their complaints. Their hushed discussions of who had and hadn’t donated this month – their money, their time, their cakes. It was never enough. And the church was always too much.

When the church prayed at night, it sometimes asked God to silence them. Then it felt bad to its foundations, in case God did send some doves to rip out their tongues, or reached down with a mighty hand and fused their teeth together as they slept. Plus, it was somewhat arrogant to think it could make such a request, and be heard? Its mortar cracked with guilt. God was rightfully silent.

But on the morning of Good Friday, it seemed like….there was a shift. A something. A prickling charge. The church felt it the moment the priest pushed open its doors, and Spring air rushed in, complete with a new song coming from out of the priest’s mouth. It wasn’t a hymn. It was a bobbing kind of tune.

“I feel good,” sang the priest, as he strode down the aisle.

The church listened.

And all through that morning, each visitor, each helper, seemed to pad out a jauntier rhythm than usual, on the church’s floor. On the thin red carpet that tracked up the centre aisle. On the wooden boards that skirted all around the sides. On the stone floor that took the weight of the altar. Their steps had the bounce of promise and good moods.

The church’s walls hummed with the wanting…the wanting to know what had caused this? And at noon, it finally got a few clues.

“Mr Mayor!” called the priest, from behind the lectern. His voice travelled, like an arrow, straight to the door.

“Father,” the mayor replied. The church could feel the weight of him, stood by the display of lilies at the entrance. They were leftovers from Mrs Anstey’s funeral. Her daughters had left them behind as they both had cats, and didn’t want to risk the pollen. The mayor sniffed the lilies, then took slow, solid steps up to meet the priest.

“Shall we?” said the priest.

The church felt them both move in lockstep, over to the little vestry on the left. They did a shuffle at the door.

“After you,” said the priest.

The church felt the scrape of chair legs against its damp floor, as the two men seated themselves on either side of the priest’s desk.

“Raymond,” said the priest.

“Father,” said the mayor. “It’s done. I’ve secured the funds. It wasn’t easy.”

“Excellent, excellent.”

“That’s it…?”

“What?”

“I thought you’d have a verse?”

‘Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.’

“Thank you?”

“Don’t mention it. Shall we?”

The church could hear the scratch of a pen on paper. But it had no sight, and no ability to read. And the men did not speak of what they were signing.

“I’ll see myself out,” said the mayor.

The priest hummed that same bobbing tune from earlier, and scraped his chair back from the desk, before taking a nap, complete with snores, on the squeaky beanbag in the corner. It was a big day for him? And the Easter services hadn’t even started yet.

The church waited patiently, through the afternoon service, and the evening service until the priest closed up for the night, turning the key, and patting the door. It was the most attention from him that the church had felt in a long time. It lurched with a sickening mix of happiness and sadness.

As soon as his footsteps had tracked out of hearing, the church cast its attention up to God.

“Hello, Dear Mother in Heaven. May I ask what is happening?” asked the church.

“Right now? Night.” God responded. It had to be God? The priest was the last to leave. There was no-one else between these walls.

“Sorry. I meant to me?” the church ventured quakily. This was only the third time that God had ever replied.

“You are being sold.”

“Like a cake?”

“No, for more money than a cake.”

“Is this a good thing?” The priest certainly thought so. But right then the church wasn’t so sure. It felt…a little sick to its rafters.

“All things must fall to be rebuilt.”

“Like Jesus?”

Silence. Oh hell. Oh heavens. Was that the wrong thing to say? The Easter words had been swirling around throughout the services of the day. Now they were leaking out from the consciousness of its bricks.

“Sorry. Sorry. I deserve this.”

“Yes.”

“For being so bad.”

Soft laughter curled in through the gaps in the roof, and brushed over the damp walls. “That is not what I said.”

“Will it hurt?”

“You’re being sold, not demolished.”

“May I….”

“Ask who the buyer is?”

“Well, yes. Is it the mayor? Is the mayor going to turn me into…a place for mayors?”

“No, he’s buying you to donate you…”

“Like a cake?”

“In a fashion. Do you trust me?”

“Yeeeessss?”

“Then sleep.”

“Ok.”

The church did not sleep. It was wobbling on the brink of the unknown. It was trading the priest it knew for…a new life. It was being resurrected as…as what? The question was roof blastingly hard to wrap its walls around.

“Trust in God. Trust in God. Trust in God,” it muttered.

Week 39

I saw this church while out on a walk. And I started the story thinking about what kind of person might want a new life and why. But before I could get anywhere, it seemed right that it should be the church that gets a new life? (It’s also Easter.)

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