• Eunice Wilkie

The Celestial Chronicles (5)

Stories imagining Christian service from Heaven’s point of view

In the Audience


The church was abuzz with excited anticipation, the kitchen hardly less so. Mrs Able competently managed the bevvy of chattering ladies arranging sandwiches, placing dainty cakes on trays, and preparing the tea urns to be filled immediately following tonight’s Important Service. They all vied good-naturedly for roles, eager to be involved.

“Patience, dear…” Mrs Able approached the plain, middle-aged woman who was quietly creating order out of chaos in a corner of the kitchen. Patience Goodhope was a familiar worker behind the scenes – unlike those who reserved their service mostly for the Big Occasions. Dear, reliable Patience. “Mrs Prickleback has just turned up with a large quantity of cupcakes. I know the trays have been completed and we already have more than enough food, but she’ll be so upset if her cakes aren’t used.” A deep sigh. “She says they’re the Preacher’s favourite,” Mrs Able ended helplessly.

Patience considered the neatly arranged trays of food which she had just completed. Mrs Prickleback didn’t usually contribute anything – but then Patience remembered that Mrs P did sometimes offer provisions on Big Occasions, generally at the last (and most inconvenient!) moment.

Patience smiled at Mrs Able and nodded reassuringly. Mrs Able patted her arm and bustled away. The Important Service was about to commence. Patience deftly removed her own carefully crafted cakes from the tray and put them back in their container, out of sight. Then she put Mrs Prickleback’s extravagantly decorated cupcakes in their place. After an initial feeling of annoyance, she smiled whimsically. Her contribution was, after all, for the Lord, an act of service for Him, not for the Most Popular Preacher who was leading the Important Service, or the wider congregation who would undoubtedly admire the church’s hospitality. Everyone would be well fed with or without her cakes. What did it matter if only the Lord knew about her offering? It was for Him, after all.

***

The Most Popular Preacher scanned the congregation with pride. He knew the large crowd was a compliment to his preaching: everyone said so. Wherever he went, people flocked to hear him – admiring his eloquence; waiting for his witticisms; awed by his Bible knowledge; hanging on his every word. Once again, they had had to bring in extra seats to line the centre aisle, and when they were filled, still more squashed in at the back.

At the last minute, an unremarkable woman took a seat on the plastic chair which had been placed next to the kitchen. The Preacher could barely discern Patience at that distance. Although he’d seen her on previous evenings and she looked somewhat familiar, he could never remember her name – if indeed he had ever known it. She looked like a good sort – the kind that were the backbone of the church. Hidden but useful; living a quiet life in the shadows. The type that would never feature in anything public or grand – as he was called to. Bless her.

***

It was the purpose of the Creator that through the endless aeons of eternity the vast universe would be administered and governed by the Redeemed of Earth. The Creator decreed which roles and responsibilities would be assigned to each of the Redeemed. Some were granted exalted roles – governing universes, worlds, empires, vast regions, and countries. Others were given more lowly responsibilities – assisting in households, hamlets and communities. The role the Redeemed were granted depended on their faithfulness to God during their sojourn in the Realm of Time. It was a wonderful plan!

In the Courts of Heaven, Adlai was the Celestial Minister of Roles and Responsibilities, and his Scribes and Administrators faithfully recorded the roles the Creator had chosen for the each of the Redeemed. They also tracked the progress of those who were still on Earth. Adlai had long since stopped trying to comprehend why those still on Earth were so focused on outward achievement during their short stay in the Realm of Time. They didn’t even belong to Earth; they had been purchased for another world – for splendour beyond imagining. Even Adlai himself would be overseen by one of the Redeemed, yet so many of them were engrossed in the petty things they could see around them, forgetful of the possibilities ahead.

Because of his exalted position, Adlai wasn’t generally acquainted with the names of the individuals who would one day hold the more minor positions of authority. The billions of future governors of households, estates, hamlets, scattered communities, villages, and towns were carefully recorded by the many angels under his jurisdiction, but not of especial interest to him. Even the thousands upon thousands of city mayors and regional governors were not particularly on his radar, but the potential future ruler of a nation was interesting.

Adlai wondered if the Preacher knew who was in his audience. For this minuscule moment in the Realm of Time, the Preacher was in the limelight, great in the eyes of those who surrounded him on Earth. But Adlai was privileged to know what eternity might hold for these people.

One day (in fact when there are no more days of time, only the eternal present), unless things change in the Realm of Time, the Preacher will rule a city; but Patience Goodhope will govern the great country which contains that city.

Adlai would never normally have been intrigued by a future Household Assistant: but that’s where he found Mrs Prickleback’s name. She still has time to change that.




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