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  • Writer's pictureRevShirleyMurphy

Two Churches – Author Unknown

There once were two churches. One day, a homeless man came into town. He had not eaten for many days and was very hungry. He thought that he might be able to get a morsel to eat at one of the churches. The first church was huge -- a Gothic masterpiece, built of solid limestone, with a spire that seemed to reach into the heavens. When he tried to open the massive front door, he found that it was locked. Then he saw a sign that said "Office" with an arrow pointing to his right.

When he walked into the office, he found himself in a large, well-lighted room. A secretary sat at the front desk, typing the church bulletin onto a computer. She looked up at the shabby man and frowned. "May I help you?" she asked crisply. "Yes ma'am," the homeless man answered. "I am very hungry. Do you have any food here?" "Indeed we do," the woman answered proudly. "This church has the largest food bank in the state. People from far and wide donate to it. It's been written up in all the papers." "Then," the man said, "may I have something to eat?" The woman looked him up and down. "Do you live here in town?" she asked. "I've never seen you before." "No, ma'am. I'm just a traveller passing through." The woman turned icy. "I see," she said, reaching into her desk drawer. She pulled out two sheets of paper and handed them to the man. "Please fill this out and bring it back to me. It's an application for assistance. The church board demands that everything be done properly and in good order here." The homeless man took the papers, walked over to a small desk, sat down, and filled them out. Then he returned the application to the secretary. She looked over the papers and said, "Before we can give you anything, our Executive Board has to approve this. You're in luck. They meet tomorrow night. Come back Wednesday morning and we'll see if we can do anything for you." "But I'm so hungry," the man said. "Maybe the minister can help me. May I see him?" The secretary was clearly becoming agitated. "Do you have an appointment?" "No, ma'am." "You must have an appointment. Our minister is very busy. Right now he's meeting with the mayor and the committee to beautify our town. The pastor is a very important man. He's been written up in all the papers. You come back on Wednesday and maybe we can feed you. You don't need to see the minister about this." The homeless man walked out of the church office and continued down the street. A few blocks later, he saw another church. This one was small and made of wood. It looked very poor. Inside he found a young man sweeping the floor between the old wooden pews. The young man looked up and smiled. "Welcome stranger," he said brightly. "What can we do for you?" "May I see the minister or the secretary?" the homeless man asked. The young man chuckled. "We don't have a secretary, but I'm the minister." "Then," the homeless man said, "can I get something to eat from your food bank." "I'm afraid we don't have one of those either," the minister said. "This church is so poor that our members barely have enough to feed themselves." The homeless man turned to leave but was stopped by the minister. "But" the young man said, "my wife is fixing me lunch right now. It's not very fancy, but I'd he honoured to share it with you. She will bring it to my office in a few minutes. Come in and eat with me." A half hour later, the homeless man was just polishing off the last of a thick ham and cheese sandwich and a steaming bowl of homemade vegetable soup. Then the preacher's wife produced a small paper sack and an old thermos bottle. "Here are a few more sandwiches, sir, some cookies, and some hot coffee. You can return the thermos to me whenever you come back through town." As the homeless man walked out of the town, He looked back to see the spire of the big church rising high above the rest of the buildings. He could not see the small church at all. Yet, He knew that it was there and praised His Father for the kind young minister and his generous wife. He would not forget them -- ever -- and neither would His Father. The thermos bottle was, even then, sitting on the stoop of the little church. But instead of containing coffee, it was now overflowing with God's blessings. "Then the King will say to those on his right, `Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty, and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick, and you looked after me, I was in prison, and you came to visit me.'" (Matthew 25:34-36 NIV)

"You will know them by what they do. Thorn bushes do not bear grapes, and briers do not bear figs." (Matthew 7:16 GNB)

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