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Defies Description

Happy is the man who does not lose faith in Me (Matthew 11:6) Third Sunday of Advent

In a classic magazine cartoon, two men, arriving at the Pearly Gates are depicted standing before the judgment seat of God. One is holding a briefcase. The other man is speaking. The caption reads: "My name is Howard C. Freswell, and this is Arthur Templeton, my attorney."-1

The crucial question before us when we arrive at the "Pearly Gates" is not, "Who is your lawyer?" or "Who is your accountant." The crucial question -- then and now -- is "Who is your Savior?" And it's the same question that is before some of the disciples of John the Baptist in today's Gospel Lesson.

John the Baptist, the "precursor" who announced the coming of the Messiah, is in prison. He is well aware that execution at the hands of King Herod awaits him. He still has ardent disciples around him but now that his role is about to come to an end, it seems logical that he send these disciples to Jesus. And so they seek Jesus out and, to make certain of His identity, ask, "Are You the one who is to come, or have we got to wait for someone else?" (Mt. 11:3). In other words, "Are You the Messiah?" "Are You our Savior?" Jesus does not answer "Yes" or "No." Rather He invites them to open their eyes and ears and their minds and hearts to what is going on. "Go back and tell John what you hear and see," He says. "The blind see again and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised to life and the Good News is proclaimed to the poor" (Mt. [...]

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Stories you can use...

We've got a million of them (well, almost).

Father’s Day, Father, Security

“Wrap your cloak around you and follow me” (Acts 12:8). Reinhold Neibuhr (noted theologian) once spoke of his deceased father with these words: As a child I once spent a day with my grandmother. Toward evening, a severe storm began. My Grandmother didn’t know how I would get home. But my father came. He put his big blue coat over my head – grabbed my hand – and off we went. I couldn’t see anything as we splashed through puddles and mud. I heard the rain and the thunder claps and seized my father ’s hand more tightly. But I would have been a fool if I had complained that it was dark around me. After all, it was my father ’s coat, protecting me from the weather. Father saw the way . . . and when the coat was parted, we were home.

Christmas, Harvest, Light

“I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). There is a beautiful and inspiring Christmas legend about the poor people who lived in a forest village in old Rumania. Their poverty was most clearly reflected in the ramshackle Church which stood near the town center. When visitors came, villagers often said apologetically, “Some day we’re going to build a beautiful Cathedral like the one on the other side of the forest.” Oh how they did admire the neighboring Church. In fact, on special occasions, they often trekked through the forest to that big Cathedral. It just seemed that God was nearer to them in this majestic setting. When they made the trip through the dense forest, however, it was necessary to pass by a well which was supposed to be haunted. It was said that if you didn’t throw a coin into the well, something would drag you down into it and you would never be seen again . . . One cold, dark Christmas Eve, a little boy named Raul passed by on his way to the Cathedral, carrying only a small candle to light his way. Back in the village, Raul’s mother was terribly sick, perhaps dying. Raul hoped to place his candle on the altar of the big Cathedral and pray for her recovery. As he came near the well, he heard a moan. It was then he realized he had forgotten to bring a coin. Terrified, Raul started to run. But he tripped and fell by the well’s edge. There he heard a child’s voice. “Help me out. Give me your light so I can see my way.” “This candle is for my mother,” Raul said, trembling. “I must take it to the altar of the big Church so that she will get well.” “Can you refuse me on the night of Christ’s birth?” the voice from the well pleaded. Raul thought for a moment. Then he lowered the candle into the well and fell weeping on his knees in the darkness. Suddenly, the lighted candle returned. Looking up, Raul saw a child stepping out of the well holding the little candle in his hand. “Go back home,” said the little child, “your mother will live.” Raul ran home and found his mother waiting for him as though she had never been ill. Later that night, they went together to the shabby village Church to give thanks. When they entered, they were nearly blinded by the light which streamed from the altar. Bathed in such splendor, the old Church was every bit as beautiful as the neighboring big Cathedral. “Why Raul,” exclaimed his mother, “there is only one candle on the altar. How can one candle make such light?” Raul was too awed to speak, for as he knelt before the altar, he saw that it was his very own candle. The light he had given away had been given back a thousand-fold!

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