"The Invitation"
(© By Bob Perks - Bob@BobPerks.com)

11-24-2004 Church Within SOW Seeds Service - Story #317
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Welcome
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Greetings my Dearest Sisters and Brothers, and welcome again to Church Within's Story of the Week ["SOW Seeds”].

This week's SOW Seeds Story, contributed by: Bob Perks

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Story of the Week
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"The Invitation"
(© By Bob Perks - Bob@BobPerks.com)

"Excuse me sir," the man said softly as he tried to stop a passerby.

But no one would stop to talk with him.

"I'm a stranger here in town. Could you help me find this place?," he said to one kind looking woman.

She passed him by, but stopped and turned around.

"What is it you are looking for?" she asked while keeping her distance.

"I received this invitation for a Christmas day feast. I'm new in town, you see. I don't know where this is."

She took the paper from his hand and then began to laugh.

"Oh, this!" she said and shook her head. "I wouldn't waste my time. It's in a part of town..." she paused for moment and giving the man a quick glance, continued.
"Sir, a man of your quality should not go there."

This man was a well dressed man. Although not wealthy, he gave the appearance of success.

She quickly pointed down the street and told him where to turn. "You'll know you're there when the houses look like run down shacks. Just past that mess, at the farthest end of the road you'll find him."

Just then a friend of hers came walking by. "Is everything okay?" he asked.

"Yes. He got one of old man Hanson's Christmas invitations and he wanted to know how to get there," she said.

"Oh, no! That's a joke." he said.

"Why, sir would you say that? I found it to be a wonderful, kind thing to do. I'm new here in town and I have no one to spend Christmas with this year."

"Well, I'd rather spend it alone then in that house. He passes them out every year and no one ever goes. You'd have to be desperate!" he said laughing and then dropped the invitation on the ground as they walked away.

"I am, I am alone in a town full of strangers for Christmas" replied the man as he reached down to retrieve the paper.

Reading it again out loud:

"Dear friend,

You are cordially invited to a feast. It begins at noon on Christmas Day.

Dress is casual and you are to bring nothing but your kind heart and gentle spirit.

There are no strangers. Just friends I haven't met."

222 Shady Brook Road

Your friend,
Jed Hanson"

The man set out, invitation in hand, to take part in a grand and glorious feast.

He walked past the old shacks the woman spoke about. Within each window were handmade decorations and the warmth and spirit of the day spilled out into the streets with the laughter of the neighborhood children.

There, at the end of the road, was a house not much better than the ones he passed.

He carefully stepped onto the porch and knocked gently on the door. Waiting another minute he tapped on window pane hoping to get someone's attention.

"I must be early. Where is everyone?" he said as he peeked through the window curtains.

Suddenly the door opened wide.

"Yes, my friend you are here for the feast?" the old man asked.

There standing in the doorway was Mr. Jed Benson. He was dressed in an old carefully patched sweater, faded blue dress pants, white shirt and old neck tie. He motioned for him to enter.

"I'm sorry, I must be early."

"Not at all, my friend. Please come in it is about to begin."

Turning toward the adjacent room he saw a magnificent table laid out before him filled with all kinds of food and festive goodies for the holiday.

"There is so much. How many people attend this feast?"

"You are the first and only one, my friend."

"I can't believe that. With all of this, it is more than I even imagined. Why wouldn't you have hundreds of people here?"

"It is a sad fact. It is all based on their perception of me. I am a simple man, dressed in simple clothes. By today's standards I look poor and unworthy of anyone's attention. My home is old and worn, too. So no one chooses to enter," he said. Then pulling out the chair at the head of the table, he motioned to the man to sit.

"Once you learn the true value of this experience your life changes forever."

"What is the lesson here?"

"Every human being is like this house. Although on the outside we may look tattered and torn, it is what is on the inside that makes the difference. You accepted my invitation even after seeing me. You saw something inside of me that no one else did. Then upon seeing the home in which I reside, you did not turn away."

"I saw you as no different than I. Although your clothing gave the impression of a troubled soul, the spirit of your invitation told me you were sincere. When I saw your house, I thought nothing of it because I was focused on the feast within."

"There, my good friend, is the lesson. Every human being has value. Every situation in life, good or bad, has within it a valuable lesson."

My friend, life is a banquet and God has already given you, "The Invitation."

Won't you join us?

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The Prayer
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Dear God,        
        Thanks for the Invitation… I'll Be there!


You ALL are Within the Infinitely Loving Embrace of our Universal Parent,

The Creator's Eternal Love to all of You,
Pastor Daniel

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