"How shall we know the Savior when he comes?"
(Author Unknown]

10-27-99 SOW Seeds Service from Church Within #55

Greetings my Dearest Sisters and Brothers, and welcome again to Church Within Story of the Week ["SOW Seeds]

This week's SOW Seeds - # 55, contributed by: Dean Wilber

Story of the Week
(from: Dean Wilber – “I heard the basic story from a college buddy back in the '80's, but I don't think he originated it. I have added my own embellishments, hopefully for the benefit of the reader.”)

"How shall we know the Savior when he comes?"
(Author Unknown]

        Once there was a monastery out in the country. It was an old, established religious community, but it had fallen on hard times. The number of monks had dwindled over the years as the brothers got old and died, or found they couldn't live under the vows. The monks that were left were barely able to keep the small gardens and tend the few chickens and livestock which barely allowed them to subsist, much less to help out the destitute in the area, of whom there were many. They hardly ever received a visitor, even from the nearby villages, and very rarely were given a donation to help their cause. It had been a long time since a young man entered their community as a novice.

        Their religion taught of the coming of a Savior, the Divine taking on human form, who would right all wrong things and make the world into a paradise for all of mankind. The monks came to believe that only the Savior's entrance to the world would save their little community, so they fasted and scourged themselves, and held long vigils, praying for a sign of the Savior's coming. Their communal meals were silent, their daily rituals were tinged with desperation, and the sermons they heard from their abbot focused on stamping out their evil desires and the shame they should feel. The monks were a miserable lot.

        One of the younger monks, who was still old, to you and me, asked the abbot at the end of one sermon, "How shall we know the Savior when he comes?" A buzz of interested muttering and whispering rippled through the congregation: years had passed since any of them had asked or heard a question of real significance.

        The oldest monk in the community, who had been the leader but now was blind and lame and had to be led around by another monk, stood up and faced towards the other monks, and with upraised finger said, "Well, we really don't know when the Savior will get here, or what the Savior will look like when he or she comes." He paused for a moment as a louder buzz traveled through the congregation. The young (relatively) monk asked, "But how can we be sure we won't miss the Savior when he arrives?" The old monk replied, "To be sure we greet the Savior properly upon his arrival, we must treat every person as if he or she were the Savior." A loud murmur of conversation echoed where a formerly tomblike silence had so often reigned. As the monks were dismissed to their respective duties, they continued to discuss what they had heard.

        Somehow, a new day had dawned for these monks. The monks who were assigned the onerous duty of leading the oldest monk around now tended to his needs with a glad heart. Where the monks before had gone about their daily tasks in silence, now, in the gardens, the kitchen, the barn, and the small chapel, they said, "Can I help you, brother?" and "God bless you, brother." They stopped scourging and fasting so much, and started celebrating. The small chapel resonated with their songs and prayers. They practiced their rituals with precision and enthusiasm. The sermons now spoke of the joy of the impeding Arrival. They put their hearts so much into greeting the Savior and caring for and serving each other that they forgot the troubles of their little community.

        Their gardens and livestock began producing more, so that they had a surplus they could share with the poor. As they became known in the towns for their generosity, the townspeople began visiting, and then sharing in their celebration. Donations came streaming in, and the monastery became known for its service to the needy. Young men came from distant lands to join their community. Soon, they had to make plans to raise up new buildings to house all the new members and oblates.

        When the oldest monk died, he was interred in the crypt next to his predecessors, with the epitaph, "Rest In Peace, until the Arrival of the Savior." One of the new novices asked the old abbot, who used to be one of the younger monks, "What will be different when the Savior arrives?" The abbot replied, "All people will treat each other with love and respect, and all our needs will be taken care of." The younger monk then asked, "But what will be the difference?"

The Prayer
Dear God,        
        Help me to See You within All of my mortal Brothers and Sisters. I Know You are There... I have Seen You there Before. I wish to see You there Always!

You ALL are Within the Infinitely Loving Embrace of our Universal

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

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