Long’s Chapel United Methodist Church and her visitors (almost 2000 total!) were treated yesterday to an extraordinary sermon by an extraordinary preacher, our Pastor, Dr. Chuck Wilson.  He related to us the following story, which has to be one of the best Easter sermon illustrations of all time!

Two gentlemen friends were visiting a city one day and decided to tour an art museum together.  They were both business men, but one of them was also a former chess champion.  They were walking slowly through the gallery and came upon a painting called “Checkmate.”  While both looked at the painting, the former chess champion was fascinated by it, and could not turn away from it.  It depicted an ordinary man, with a sad countenance, sitting across a chessboard from a jubilant “Satan-like” opponent.  The pieces (as seen in the photo above) on the board are arranged in such a way that the man’s king was left in a losing position and to cause the devil to shout the title of the painting – “Checkmate!”

The more the chess champion looked at the board, the more he was perplexed, and his companion was getting very impatient.  The chess champion said to his friend, “you go on…there is something puzzling me about this painting, and I can’t quite figure it out.  I’ll catch up with you later on.”  So his friend went off to tour the rest of the museum.  The chess champion gazed at, thought, gazed some more and studied very closely the unusual painting.  After quite some time, his friend returned and found the chess champion smiling, and noticing his return, the chess player said, “I’ve got it!  This painting has the wrong title.  I’ve been studying the arrangement of all the pieces (not seen in the photo), and the devil hasn’t necessarily won, because ‘The king still has one more move!'”

Friday…Saturday…all seems lost.  The one in whom you had put your hope and trust is finishedDefeated. DeadIn the stone-sealed tomb.  The Romans are laughing at this so-called “INRI”  (Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews).  It’s all over.  Some King…some Messiah… some Savior!  But: The King Still Has One More Move.

Sunday morning!  Resurrection…Triumph…Empty Tomb…Victory over Death!  Hope does indeed live, and death is not the end. Mel Blanc, the voice of many, many Warner Brothers cartoon characters, has as his epitaph the immortal words of “Porky Pig:”  “That’s All Folks!”  What a blessing to know that our death is not all – that whenever we feel that all hope is lost, when there is nowhere left to go, that joy is gone, that there is nothing or no one in which or whom to put our faith…when we feel swallowed up in the darkness our own problems, concerns, failings, and sins – The King Still Has One More Move!

In her beautiful song of praise, “Hymn of Promise,” Natalie Sleeth, a talented and prolific anthem and hymn writer (both music and lyrics) closes with this final verse:

“In our end is our beginning, in our time, infinity.
In our doubt, there is believing, in our lives, eternity!
In our death, a resurrection! At the last, a victory:
Unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.”
Thank You, most loving God, for this freely-given Offering of Your Amazing Grace!
As ever, Gentle Reader,
I wish you enough

Addendum:  My brother sent me a photo (on 4/7/10) of the painting mentioned above  (Thank you, John):