LACK OF RESPECT

A stranger, exuding joy,  went into church one day, a church that was not his own.  He mingled about with the parishioners patting them on the back, talking loudly and laughing in a gesture of friendship.  The parishioners were shocked with his familiarity and horrified at his “lack of respect” for a place of worship.  He was asked to leave.

On the doorstep, he was approached by God who said, “Cheer up, fella, I’ve been trying to get into that church for years!”

Source: Dare to Make a Joyful Noise Unto the Lord! by Erma Bombeck
in Ocala Star-Banner, February 26, 1970.| 7A

CONSIDER THIS

  • I cannot imagine a Christian who does not know how to smile. May we joyfully witness to our faith. —Pope Francis, February 4th, 2014
  • Evangelization in our time will only take place as the result of contagious joy. —Pope Francis, Message for the 29th World Youth Day, 21st January 2014
  • There are Christians whose lives seem like Lent without Easter.  —Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium, #6
  • An evangelizer must never look like someone who has just come back from a funeral! —Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium, #10

COINCIDENCE OR SOMETHING ELSE?

Once upon a time an unexpected severe rainstorm erupted. Joan looking from the second story of her home, could see stalled cars caught in the flash flood.

A lone station wagon struggled through the water and headed up her street. The vehicle stopped for a moment in front of her house, then pulled into the driveway. The woman raced to the door and saw two teenage girls standing there. They were extremely frightened by the lightning, rain, and flooded roads.

One girl asked to use the woman’s telephone, explaining that she wanted to call her father to let him know she was safe. Of course, the woman let them in and prepared hot cocoa while the girls made their calls.

Meanwhile, the Edgar, the woman’s husband, paced the kitchen floor nervously. The newspaper office where he worked was flooding, and he was waiting to hear from the facility manager. His anxiety was increasing because the man had not called.

The girls completed their calls and told the woman and her husband, “My dad told us to wait out the storm here, but he was a little worried about our being in a stranger’s house. I gave him your number. I hope that was okay.”

As the woman nodded, the phone rang. Her husband answered it and returned after a few seconds.

“It was the facility manager, but he didn’t want to talk about the newspaper office.” A strange look came over the man’s face. “He wanted to thank me for keeping his daughter and her friend safe!”

Source: Heard during a conference and retold as remembered

CONSIDER THIS

For some, a coincidence  is  divine  mystery’s  way  of  remaining  anonymous.  For others, a coincidence is just a question meeting an answer in an unexpected way.

How about you? Do you believe in coincidences? How would you define a coincidence? Was it mere coincidence or divine providence that the two teenage girls randomly selected a house in which they would be safely sheltered?

THE MUSIC COMING FROM THE HOUSE

On Christmas Eve, the king invited the prime minister to join him for their usual walk together. He enjoyed seeing the decorations in the streets, but since he didn’t want his subjects to spend too much money on these just to please him, the two men always disguised themselves as traders from some far distant land.

They walked through the centre of the city, admiring the lights, the Christmas trees, the candles burning on the steps of the houses, the stalls selling gifts, and the men, women and children hurrying off to celebrate a family Christmas around a table laden with food.

On the way back, they passed through a poorer area, where the atmosphere was quite different. There were no lights, no candles, no delicious smells of food about to be served. There was hardly a soul in the street, and, as he did every year, the king remarked to the prime minister that he really must pay more attention to the poor in his kingdom. The prime minister nodded, knowing that the matter would soon be forgotten again, buried beneath the day-to-day bureaucracy of budgets to be approved and discussions with foreign dignitaries.

Suddenly, they heard music coming from one of the poorest houses. The hut was so ramshackle and the rotten wooden timbers so full of cracks, that they were able to peer through and see what was happening inside. And what they saw was utterly absurd: an old man in a wheelchair apparently crying, a shaven-headed young woman dancing, and a young man with sad eyes shaking a tambourine and singing a folk song.

‘I’m going to find out what they’re up to,’ said the king.

He knocked. The music stopped, and the young man came to the door.

‘We are merchants in search of a place to sleep. We heard the music, saw that you were still awake, and wondered if we could spend the night here.’

‘You can find shelter in a hotel in the city. We, alas, cannot help you. Despite the music, this house is full of sadness and suffering.’

‘And may we know why?’

‘It’s all because of me.’ It was the old man in the wheelchair who spoke. ‘I’ve spent my life teaching my son calligraphy, so that he could one day get a job as a palace scribe. But the years have passed and no post has ever come up. And then, last night, I had a stupid dream: an angel appeared to me and asked me to buy a silver goblet because, the angel said, the king would be coming to visit me. He would drink from the goblet and give my son a job.

‘The angel was so persuasive that I decided to do as he said. Since we have no money, my daughter-in-law went to the market this morning to sell her hair so that we could buy that goblet over there. The two of them are doing their best to get me in the Christmas spirit by singing and dancing, but it’s no use.’

The king saw the silver goblet, asked to be given a little water to quench his thirst and, before leaving, said to the family:

‘Do you know, we were talking to the prime minister only today, and he told us that an opening for a palace scribe would be announced next week.’

The old man nodded, not really believing what he was hearing, and bade farewell to the strangers. The following morning, however, a royal proclamation was read out in all the city streets; a new scribe was needed at court. On the appointed day, the audience room at the palace was packed with people eager to compete for that much-sought-after post. The prime minister entered and asked everyone there to prepare their paper and pens:

‘Here is the subject of the composition: Why is an old man weeping, a shaven-headed woman dancing, and a sad young man singing?’

A murmur of disbelief went round the room. No one knew how to tell such a story, apart, that is, from the shabbily dressed young man sitting in one corner, who smiled broadly and began to write.

Source | Paolo Coelho, Christmas Stories
Sant Jordi Asociados (December 5, 2014)

CONSIDER THIS

Many things come to pass when we least expect them and in ways we have never imagined!

HE’S MY BROTHER

Someone once met a lad going to school long before the days when transport was provided. The lad was carrying on his back a smaller boy who was clearly lame and unable to walk.

The stranger said to the lad, “Do you carry him to school every day?”

“Yes,” said the boy.

“That’s a heavy burden for you to carry,” said the stranger.

“He’s not heavy,” said the boy. “He’s my brother.”

Source |  William Barclay, The Letters of John and Jude
(Westminster John Knox Press, 2002) page 116

CONSIDER THIS

No burden is ever too heavy when it is received and carried in love.

ENTERTAINING ANGELS WITHOUT KNOWING IT

There was a monastery that was renowned for its hospitality, a welcoming place for many weary travellers in need of rest. One day while the abbot was deep in prayer an angel appeared, surrounded by golden light. The abbot gazed in rapt contemplation and was filled with a peace beyond measure. Suddenly a series of heavy knocks resounded on the front door. “It is some weary traveler come to find shelter,” the abbot said to himself. “What should I do? If I go and answer the door, the angel might disappear. If I stay, who will care for the traveler?”

Reluctantly the abbot rose, looked resignedly at the angel, and left the room in order to attend to the needs of the dust-stained traveler.

When he returned to his cell, the angel, to the abbot’s great surprise, was still there. The angel said to him, “Had you not gone to help the needy traveler, I myself would have been compelled to leave.”

Source | Joan Chittister, 40 Stories to Stir the Soul

PONDER AND CONSIDER

“Let mutual love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.” | Hebrews 13:1-2

IS THERE ROOM IN THE INN

Wally was big for his age – seven years old. Everyone wondered what role the teacher would give him in the annual Christmas play. Especially considering the fact that he was also a slow learner. Perhaps he could pull the curtain.

To everyone’s surprise the teacher gave Wally the role of the innkeeper. The boy of course was delighted. After all, all he had to learn was one line:

“There is no room in the inn.” He had that down in no time.

Then came the night for the program. The parents took their places. Every seat in the auditorium was filled. The children entered singing “Oh come all ye faithful.” The lights dimmed. A hush moved over the audience. The curtain opened on Scene One. Mary and Joseph entered the stage and walked up to the inn. “Please sir, my wife is not well. Could we have a room for the night?”

Wally was ready for his line. He had rehearsed it all night. He began, “there is”, and he hesitated. He started over again. “There is … “ and again his mind went completely blank. Everyone was embarrassed for him but poor Wally just didn’t know what to do. Joseph thought he would improvise and started walking away toward the stable on stage left. Seeing him walking away Wally in desperation called out: “Look, there’s plenty of room at my house, just come on home with me.”

Source | eSermons

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A DIFFERENT RENDITION FO THE SAME STORY

A young girl, playing the part of the innkeeper, needed to respond to Mary and ]oseph’s question, “ls there any room in the inn?”

As the Bible’s rendition goes, the innkeeper replies, “No. There is no room in the inn.” But this little girl paused as she looked at Mary and Joseph. She looked out at the priest responsible for the choreography of the nativity play … she looked at her parents. She looked at Mary and Joseph again, and told them, “You might as well at least come in for a drink or two.”

Source | Terry Hershey, Soul Gardening, page 70

PONDER AND CONSIDER

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.” (Revelations 3:20)

A delightful twist on a familiar story. Over the years the characters in the Christmas story have become clearly defined for us. The issues all seem so clear cut. Herod was a villain and the wise men were heroes. The shepherds were heroes and the Innkeeper – well, the poor innkeeper has gone down as one of the heavies in the story. In our minds eye, we envision him as a crotchety old man with a night cap on his head sticking his head out a second story window and tersely shouting: Take the stable and leave me alone.

What if  the innkeeper has received bad press? What if this simple little statement about there being no room in the Inn is about you and not the “him” of two thousand years ago?