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Saturday, March 18, 2017

3-17-17 The Wonder in the Moment

   "For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and    you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison      and you came to me.'

   Then the righteous will answer him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or        thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and          clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?'

   And the King will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my   
   brothers, you did it to me.'"           
                                                                                                       Matthew 25:35-40
Lord, I ask Your indulgence while a great image tickles my memory. A beautiful day unfolds as we loiter near the Jaffa Gate. My wife and I are not pressed with any hard schedule at the moment and so stand together watching the crowds intersecting by the gate opening into Christ Church. Across the streetthe middle-ages structure popularly called David’s Tower. I’m particularly enjoying the visual cross-section of humanity flowing pastYour diverse hand is so evident in the appearance and behavior of those who walk life with us, Lord.
Speaking of, I notice a weathered Arabic man approaching. His pants and shirt are worn, but neat, and he sports the traditional keffiyeh headdress of the Bedouin. A broad smile boasting a mostly complete set of yellowed and worn teeth further creases his deeply scored face. He’s seen a few miles, I think to myself as he nears. The man greets us, not atypical in this market area, and produces a map.
Master, I confess to suddenly becoming cynical. He wants to sell us the map, or lead us to his shop, I warn myself. He must read my wariness for he now directs his comments toward my bride.

“You are so very beautiful, may I give you this map for a moment of conversation?”
My wife accepts and I’m left to observe as he asks her where we are from and why we have journeyed to Jerusalem. My sweet wife is ever gracious and describes our love of the land. To my surprise, the elderly gentleman now turns to me and exclaims, “Your wife is very lovely. I will give you 100 camels, 2 donkeys and a goat for her.”

I recognize immediately the great compliment he has bestowed to both of us. He has literally offered a king’s ransom, which I’m reasonably certain he does not possess. It is simply a charming gesture and I have no immediate place where I could stable such treasures, so I give him a way out as is the custom. “Thank you so much, but I have to tell you, my wife is the jewel of my eye and I can’t possibly part with her.”

There; the compliment and the gratitude are fairly placed and I’m ready now to pay him for his gift of the map…except he is not done. “I have no such gem,” he responds. “So I offer you my eyes which are my jewels, in addition to the 100 camels, 2 donkeys, and a goat. Also, I will give you all of the Holy Land.

Well now, I must admit Lord, I would be tempted, but for a simple fact that I happen to know. He does not possess the Holy Land, You do. Still, he has flattered my wife and engaged us with a wonderful example of local tradition. I’m ready to buy the map for a sum above its actual value. As I begin to reach for my wallet, our new-found friend thanks us for our time and moves down the street. Amazinghe was a genuine ambassador to this place and I feel a bit the lesser. I really should have prayed with himI wonder how he might have received that gesture?

Too late…or is it? Jesus, I know little of that man’s beliefs or faith, but I do know You. Forgive me if I did not immediately hear Your suggestion for communion. He is also one of Your loved ones, if not Your claimed oneshe deserved the invitation and I was stingy in my response. Please protect him…and us, on our separate journeys. I pray that what tiny bit of hospitality we offered in return for his, magnifies You and You alone. I pray that somehow, our reception of his kindness reflected Your light to him.

I haven’t gained any camels, donkeys, goats or property. You remain the jewel of my heart, I still am blessed with the jewel of my eyemy beautiful bride with which you have gifted me, and I have enjoyed a moment of gracious amusement offered by a fellow traveler. I’m wealthy beyond measure.
Some days are meant for just thisto receive and appreciate Your wonder of Lovingkindness in the moment.

Amen,

Mark C.

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