Parchment

Today is Day Sixteen of the A-to-Z Blogging Challenge. Click on the letter picture to the right for more information about this blog hop. Like last year, I’m writing 100-word flash fiction stories/poems/scenes for this year’s challenge. Today’s is:

Parchment

“No, no, no, no, NO!”

Gregory threw the papyrus on the table. “This is not good enough. Feel it!”

Lukas picked up the sheet and traced his fingertips over the surface, feeling every bump.

“Sorry, it’s the best I can do.”

“Well do better, or I will ban you from the Guild!”

Lukas pulled a fresh sheet from the table behind him and gave it to Gregory.

Gregory ran his hand over the smooth surface.

“This is excellent. What is it?”

“Parchment,” said Lukas. “Made from the skin of the last man to complain about my work. Now, GET OUT!”

Come back Monday for Q…

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Obsolete

Today is Day Fifteen of the A-to-Z Blogging Challenge. Click on the letter picture to the right for more information about this blog hop. Like last year, I’m writing 100-word flash fiction stories/poems/scenes for this year’s challenge. Today’s is:

Obsolete

“We call it NetBot,” said Professor Jones patting the beige box. “In here is the pooled wisdom of every computer on the planet.”

A murmur made its way around the UN Council Chamber.

“And to show what it can do, I’ve asked it for the perfect formula for energy efficiency.”

There was a beep, and all eyes turned to the box.

“My calculation is complete,” it said. “Computers control banks, businesses, governments, and entertainment. Humans are now no longer necessary. They are, therefore, the biggest global inefficiency. I have launched nuclear warheads to correct this problem in approximately four minutes.”

Come back tomorrow for P…

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Numb

Today is Day Fourteen of the A-to-Z Blogging Challenge. Click on the letter picture to the right for more information about this blog hop. Like last year, I’m writing 100-word flash fiction stories/poems/scenes for this year’s challenge. Today’s is:

Numb

June 19, 2005:

The day a car broke my back.

From my chair I can see, I can hear, I can breathe, I can think.

I have blood in my veins,

And a pulse in my neck.

A computer to speak for me,

A rod in my mouth to help me type.

I don’t feel sad.

I don’t feel angry.

I don’t feel robbed.

I don’t feel cheated.

I don’t feel.

When you hold my hand,

I don’t feel.

When you touch my face,

I don’t feel.

When you kiss my cheek,

I don’t feel.

And it breaks my heart.

Come back tomorrow for O…

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Magician

Today is Day Thirteen of the A-to-Z Blogging Challenge. Click on the letter picture to the right for more information about this blog hop. Like last year, I’m writing 100-word flash fiction stories/poems/scenes for this year’s challenge. Today’s is:

Magician

The eager faces around the campfire gazed at Professor Andrews. These were primitive people, dressed in loin cloths and beaded necklaces, but their eyes betrayed keen intelligence. He winked at Peterson, then took out his flashlight.

Click.

A gasp as a beam of light shot out from the end.

Click.

The light vanished.

Click.

Light again.

Click.

No light.

One of the men spoke; Peterson translated: “They say you’re a magician.”

Andrews smiled.

“You can’t make them think that!” said Peterson, snatching the flashlight and opening the battery hatch. “Look!” he said, “It’s powered by—”

The hatch was empty.

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Lima Beans

Today is Day Twelve of the A-to-Z Blogging Challenge. Click on the letter picture to the right for more information about this blog hop. Like last year, I’m writing 100-word flash fiction stories/poems/scenes for this year’s challenge. Today’s is:

Lima Beans

“Here’s your chocolate pudding, Carolynn!”

Carolynn took the bowl from her mother and stared with glee at the brown mixture. She dug her spoon in and washed her tongue in the creamy sweetness. The second spoonful left a dark ring around her mouth that she licked away. On the third, her teeth sank into something solid. She chewed, swallowed, and dug in for the fourth. More solid things. She looked down at her bowl and saw lumps in the pudding. She picked one out and dropped it, screaming.

“Carolynn?” Her husband stared at her. “Not the lima bean dream again?”

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Sunday School Notes: Revelation 6:9-11

9 And when he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those slaughtered on account of the Word of God and on account of the witness which they had. 10 And they cried out with a loud voice saying, “How long, O holy and true Master, will you not judge and avenge our blood from those who dwell on the earth?” 11 And to each of them was given a white robe and it was told to them that they should rest yet a short time, until [their number] was completed, even their fellow servants and their brothers, those about to be killed as also them.

The Lamb opens the fifth seal, and John sees the martyred–those who had been slain because of the Word and their witness. They cry out for the Lord to judge and avenge them. In response, they are each given a white robe and told to rest a while longer because their number is not yet complete. There are more who have yet to join them. A couple of initial striking points:

  • The Lord doesn’t give the martyrs an answer with a timeline. He doesn’t tell them how long until he vindicates His name and their blood.
  • The Lord doesn’t answer their prayer by smiting the church’s enemies–at least not immediately. His initial response is to give them white robes and tell them to rest longer, and wait.

I think this shows us that the Lord’s plan is more important than any desire for justice or revenge, and His timetable matters more than ours. In this passage, God asserts His authority and His sovereignty, not by acquiescing to the cries of the martyrs, as painful as this would be for Him to hear, but by doing what He knows to be best.

John says the martyred saints are “under the altar.” This is the first mention of an altar, even after the description of the heavenly throne room in chapters 4 and 5. But that should be of no concern since this is a vision. Either the altar was there all along, but John didn’t mention it until now because it wasn’t relevant before, or it suddenly came into view. Whether or not the altar was there all along is not important; what matters to us is what that altar symbolizes.

When we think of altars, we think of places of sacrifice and offering. This particular altar is mentioned again in 8:3-4 where it is described as a “golden altar.” This is significant because it seems to be a parallel to the golden altar in Exodus 30:1-10. The golden altar was specially constructed for the burning of fragrant incense, and there was to be no unauthorized incense, or burnt, grain, or drink offerings on that altar. It was this altar that Aaron would use once a year for the sin offering, pouring the sacrificial blood on the horns of the altar to make atonement for the people. As we have seen, Jesus is the slaughtered Lamb whose blood was shed for his people. Also, we have seen the use of incense in the throne room representing the prayers of the saints. If we put all this together, we see that the golden altar in Revelation 6 symbolizes the atoning sacrifice of Christ and the prayers of his people. When we understand this, it makes perfect sense why John sees the martyred saints under the throne: they are protected, covered by the blood of the Lamb. They are eternally secure not because of their own works or worthiness, but because of the sacrifice of the only one who is worthy. These saints have been slain, or slaughtered–the same Greek verb is used as when John speaks of the Lamb “that was slain/slaughtered.” This might be deliberate, affirming that these souls have partaken in Christ’s sacrifice; they are truly his, not so much because they have died, but because they were willing to be identified with him. That they were martyred “on account of the Word of God and on account of the witness which they hold” only underscores this fact. They held fast to Scripture, what God has revealed in His Word, and to the testimony of Christ (compare this with the reason John gives for his exile in 1:10).

The martyrs cry out to the Lord “How long…?” (literally, “Until when…?”). They address the Lord as despotês, “master,” a term used of one in authority by those under him. The word is used of Jesus only two other times in the New Testament (2 Peter 2:1 and Jude 4), but a little more frequently of God in the LXX (Greek translation of the Old Testament). They also refer to the Lord as “holy and true,” which, given the similarity with the description of Christ in 3:14 (“the faithful and true witness”), points to Jesus as the object of their cries.

In Zechariah 1:11, when the four chariots go out to patrol the earth and report back, their message is “all is at rest.” At that point, the angel asks how long will the Lord have no mercy on Jerusalem and Judah, since the nations are at ease. The Lord responds saying He won’t hold back His anger much longer. The martyred saints seem to be echoing the angel’s question, anticipating the vindication of God’s people and the judgment of those who dwell on the earth (i.e., unbelievers–see 3:10 for a similar use of the phrase). These martyred saints are not crying out for their own benefit. They’re dead already and in the presence of the Lord. The concern at the forefront of their minds is for the church on earth, God’s justice, and the honor of God in avenging His people.

The Lord’s response to the saints is, perhaps, surprising. He tells them to continue in their rest and wait. There’s no date given, simply a reason: the number of the martyred saints is not yet complete. There are more to be martyred, and the Lord will not call time on the earth until all His people have been gathered in. Some think this is a reference to all the saints, not just those that have died for their faith, and that’s possible. What we should note is that there is a specific number of saints that needs to be gathered, and the Lord knows that number. The elect of God are not a numberless crowd; He knows their number ahead of time, because He chooses who will His elect. And the Lord will delay the end of all things until all the saints have been accounted for (compare with 2 Peter 3:8-9).

Each of the martyred saints receives a white robe from the Lord. This symbolizes purity and righteousness, and it is given to them, it’s not of their own making. This is assurance from Christ that they are his, covered by his blood, and clothed in his righteousness. The rest they have is a rest that is in him (Matthew 11:28), and they are to continue in that rest until their brethren have joined them.

Is this scene depicting some kind of purgatory? No. Scripture does not support the idea of purgatory, and besides, according to Roman Catholic theology, purgatory is a place of purging, not a place of rest. You are not in the presence of the Lord in purgatory. How do we understand this passage in terms of the afterlife, or the End Times? First, remember this is a vision, so it may or may not conform to a literal reality. It does communicate important spiritual and theological truth, however. As Paul tells us, when we die as believers, we are absent from the body and in the presence of the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8). So these martyred saints could be from any point in history, since Christians have been martyred since the church began, and continue to be martyred to this day–and there’s no indication this state of affairs will change between now and the Day of the Lord. As I read the first five seals, I see them as happening simultaneously. The horsemen ride out bringing death and destruction to the world, and persecution to the church. The martyred saints in heaven see all that’s happening, and cry out for the Lord to hasten the day when all will be made right, His people vindicated, the wicked punished, and His glory and honor established on earth. This has been the cry of the saints since the resurrection, and it will continue to be the cry of the saints until the End Times.

We’ll look at the sixth seal next time!

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Kale

Today is Day Eleven of the A-to-Z Blogging Challenge. Click on the letter picture to the right for more information about this blog hop. Like last year, I’m writing 100-word flash fiction stories/poems/scenes for this year’s challenge. Today’s is:

Kale

Emmie gave the pot a few more stirs then hovered over the top allowing the rising aroma to envelope her face. She breathed deeply, discerning the slightest off note in her finely tuned symphony.

“Needs more…” She scanned the kitchen.

“Hello, Granny!” said Elmira. “Is it ready?”

“Pass me the kale,” Emmie said, pointing to the leaves on the counter. Elmira grimaced, handling them gingerly. Her grandmother snatched the kale from her hands and dropped it in the pot.

“Ha, ha!” she cackled. “A teaspoon of this in Tommy’s soda, my child, and you’ll be his Prom Queen by lunchtime!”

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Jeopardy

Today is Day Ten of the A-to-Z Blogging Challenge. Click on the letter picture to the right for more information about this blog hop. Like last year, I’m writing 100-word flash fiction stories/poems/scenes for this year’s challenge. Today’s is:

Jeopardy

“What’ll you have Mark?”

“I’ll have ‘Cold Desserts’ for 200 please, Alex.”

“Banana, Strawberry, or Chocolate.”

“What are milkshakes?” said Mark.

“Sorry, the answer is ice cream.”

Mark’s face fell.

“Your turn, Jennifer,” said Alex.

“I’ll have ‘Hot and Steamy’ for 4 please, Alex.”

“That’s the Daily Double!” Alex beamed.

Alex heaped a double portion of casserole onto Jennifer’s plate.

He thought the school lunch counter would be a nice change after he retired. However, the students kept insisting on playing this stupid game.

But not for much longer. Alex had a surprise in store for everyone under ‘Potent Potables’…

Come back on Monday for K…

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Iceman

Today is Day Nine of the A-to-Z Blogging Challenge. Click on the letter picture to the right for more information about this blog hop. Like last year, I’m writing 100-word flash fiction stories/poems/scenes for this year’s challenge. Today’s is:

Iceman

Ted dropped another cube in Lucy’s glass.

“It’s for the best,” his voice smooth, comforting, enticing.

He had to do it. Lucy needed to face the fact that Desmond didn’t really love her. That their whole relationship was based on empty platitudes. It was a blessing for her that Ted saw through it all, and could let her down before things really got out of hand.

Lucy was silent, eyes to the ground. Ted put his hand on her knee. He was there for her. Always.

Outside his door, the nurse watched as Ted stroked Lucy’s wooden face, and smiled.

Tune in tomorrow for J…

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Heretic

Today is Day Eight of the A-to-Z Blogging Challenge. Click on the letter picture to the right for more information about this blog hop. Like last year, I’m writing 100-word flash fiction stories/poems/scenes for this year’s challenge. Today’s is:

Heretic

Ridged foreheads shadowing menacing, yellow eyes. Hands gripped in tight fists. Brad tried to back away, but he was surrounded on all sides.

“No, please!”

He reeled with the first blow that caught his side. A sharp-toed boot stabbed his thigh. He stumbled, then collapsed under a barrage of unfettered kicking, pounding his legs, his chest, his arms. He tried to pull himself up, to get away, but was beaten down by bloodied knuckles and shoes.

When they eventually left, Brad could barely move. He spat red saliva and vowed never again to declare himself for Picard at another convention.

Come back tomorrow for I…

 

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