Second Horseman

Sunlight streamed through the large stained glass windows lining the walls of the sanctuary. They were positioned
so the light would fall on the large dais and pulpit; almost like spotlights controlled by heaven. Reverend James
Smallman glanced up at the center window on the back wall and smiled as the warmth of the light fell on his face.
The glass showing Moses’ and his staff destroying the staves of the Pharaoh’s magicians and proving the power
of the one true God was his favorite scene.
“My Brothers and Sisters,” he said as he stepped around the pulpit, and looked out at the sanctuary. The Lord had
certainly blessed his work during the last few years; today’s overflow congregation was proof of that. And, why
wouldn’t He? James thought. I speak the truth, direct from Him.
“I had prepared a sermon of Thanksgiving on this, the tenth anniversary of our ministry. However, something
happened to change that.” James paused, walked the length of the dais making eye contact with many in the
congregation and the broadcast cameras.
“You may ask what is so important it would cause me to forego my planned sermon.” James stepped back
around the pulpit, picked up a book and raised it above his head. “This is a textbook that my daughter, Diana,
brought home from school last week. The title of this book is ‘Gods of the Ancient and Modern World.’
“This morning, Diana told me her teacher was telling her students that the people of the ancient world were not
condemned for their faith in false gods, but would be judged based on their beliefs.”
A collective gasp sounded from the congregation and James smiled and nodded.
“Once again the world chooses to attack us and the Living God. It began with evolution; teaching our children
that man was not created by divine hands, but evolved from a monkey.” James paused as shouts of “Amen”
resounded through the sanctuary.
“Now, they presume to teach that false gods are real!” He slammed the book down on the pulpit. “We must take
a stand! We must not allow this blasphemy to continue!” James gestured and two men wheeled a large barrel out
in front of the pulpit.
One of the men tossed a match into the barrel, igniting the fuel inside. James picked up the textbook, and
brandished it over his head. “Just as the flames in this barrel will cleanse and purify the blasphemy in this book,
we must cleanse and purify those who don’t believe in the Living God. Let the cleansing begin!” James hurled the
book into the barrel.
“You are summoned, James Smallman, to account for your actions,” a powerful voice, which was neither male
nor female, yet seemed to be both, called. The sanctuary vibrated with the power in that voice.
James looked up and saw a tall, light-haired woman, dressed in silver garments stepping to the edge of the upper
balcony edge. She stood in front of the window showing Moses and the staves. The light surrounded her,
creating a bright aura that burned and shimmering. A silver bow was in her hands, aimed at his heart. He heard a
creak and a rush of air then felt the silver arrow strike his chest. The sanctuary vanished in a flash of light.
When the light faded, James found himself standing by a lake shrouded in mist. “What is this? Where am I?” he
“This is the afterlife, James Smallman,” said the same voice he had heard in the sanctuary. “One version of it. It
changes dependent on the faith and beliefs of those who come.”
“This is not part of my beliefs. I deny this place, I deny you!”
Another flash of light and James found himself standing on a hill looking at three crosses. “I never denied you,”
the figure on the middle cross, said softly.