Yesterday I read a story – can’t remember the name and the author was unknown but here’s a summary for you:
A minister stood up to preach on Christmas eve and as he began the doors at the back of the sanctuary open and a bedraggled couple, the woman heavily pregnant and both of them clearly having travelled far, came into the church. The congregation turned to look but no-one moved to welcome them or let them sit down. The minister beckoned them in and as they walked down the aisle to the only vacant seats at the front, every pair of eyes followed them.
The minister began with Hebrews 13:2 – Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it. And preached about how they should be loving those around them, showing hospitality to all, no matter the inconvenience, for they could be entertaining the angels themselves.
After he opened the floor for a time of sharing, hoping the young couple would speak up and ask for the help they clearly need. However, he knew it was a dangerous move because also in the congregation that night was an elderly lady, Margaret, who liked to speak for a half an hour about very little . . . there was an audible groan as she walked to the mic. When she eventually finished the young man did get up and told the congregation that his name was Joe, his girlfriend’s Mary, and that they needed somewhere to stay for a night or two.
After the service, the minister took a cup of tea to the couple and was going to offer them his spare room, only to find that many of the other congregation members had beaten him to it. On the other side of the hall sat Margaret. She finished her cup of tea (alone), put on her coat and struggled to her feet, “Human bodies” she sighed.
She slowly made her way down the road and climbed the small hill. When she reached the top she stretched out her arms and a brilliant light shone around as she was taken back to heaven.
My rendition doesn’t really do the story justice but it made me think.
I like to rant about the necessity of the church getting out from behind its walls to serve the poor, help the hurting, find the lost. But what about those who sit amongst us? What about those who come to church week in, week out and, although they are desperately in need of our help, they just don’t know how to ask? What are we doing to reach out to them?
Logs in our own eyes before specks in our brother’s.
Small things with great love.
Living amongst angels.