Wednesday, December 13, 2006

A story from a sermon

from last Sunday's sermon:
There’s this family in a well-to-do neighborhood. Every year Christmas gets out of hand. Oh, they go to church, and look respectable - - but when Christmas comes, they rip open their packages and snarl at one another. The two children bicker over their toys, complain about what they have. One year the mother says, “I’ve had it.” She gets them into the car, even has her husband pull blue jeans over his pajamas, and she drives them downtown to a homeless shelter.
“Come on, let’s go.” She leads them out of the car. They shuffle up to the door. She thinks that she can shake them up by forcing them to volunteer. They arrive just in time for the noon-time meal. People are getting in line to be served; she thinks this couldn’t be better. She leaves the rest of them by the door, and scurries up to ask the director for aprons. Alas, the shelter has too many volunteers that day, and as she turns around, she sees that the man who manages the food line has given cafeteria trays to her children and husband.
She goes to the man at the food line and says, “These three are with me.” He says, “Sorry about that, ma’am” -- and hands her a tray. So the four of them are in line for Christmas dinner, and her husband doesn’t know if she has lost her mind. She doesn’t know what to do; should they break out of line and go home, her impulsive lesson aborted?
Just then, immediately in front of them, there’s a woman in a dirty green coat. She turns around, sees the twelve year old son, and says, “Is this your first time here?” He nods and says, “Uh huh.” She smiles and says, “Don’t worry; it gets easier. If you want, you can sit with me.”
After Christmas dinner which was eaten in the presence of a woman named Emma, the family drove home in silence. Then the twelve year old spoke up, “Does God eat with Emma and those other people?” The parents looked at one another, and the mother said, “Why do you ask?” And he said, “If God eats with all of them, we should go back next Christmas.” She said, “Do you mean, to help out?” And he said, “No, I want to go back there to eat.”
She said later, “You know, I thought I took them down there to teach them a lesson, until all of us had our hearts enlarged.”

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