Thursday, June 30, 2011
When I arrived at the church, on that unforgettable Sunday, the church was already filling up with people. I found a seat next to a couple with two children, one appearing to be around my age, and as carefully as I could, without seeming to stare, looked around me. It was then, just as the Pastor asked everybody to stand up for prayer, that I saw the banner. Even as I share this with you I can see in my mind, that banner, and can remember how horrified I was. The banner was huge, tacked upon the wall behind the Pastor. It was a picture of a burning FIRE and in the middle of that fire were babies and grown men and women, their hands reaching upwards, as if begging for help, their eyes full of terror.
My hands gripped the back of the pew in front of me. My stomach was pitching and rolling like the ocean, my heart beating so fast I thought it would burst through my blouse. I don't remember the Pastor's prayer, don't remember when it ended. I just sat down automatically, when the couple next to me did, panic setting in. I wanted to leave, stood up to go, but the woman next to me patted my knee - said,"You'd best stay, honey. I'm sure God would want you too."
I stayed mostly out of fear, unable to keep myself from staring at the banner. Tears filled my eyes as I stared at it, fear filled my heart as I listened to the Pastor preach about SIN, and how EVIL we all were. "Yes, even you CHILDREN," he said, his voice thunder in the room. "God knows all you do, sees all you do, can read your thoughts. There is no getting away from him."
Every once in awhile he'd shove his glasses off his sweaty face and say,"I'm not just talking to hear myself talk, and not just talking to you adults here. I'm talking to you children too. You can't fool God. If you don't start living right, doing right, you'll wind up in HELL, just like this" and he'd point to the ugly, terrifying banner behind him.