Tuesday, April 18, 2006

An Easter Story

AN ENCOURAGING WORD for April 13, 2006 - written by Dr. Thomas Lane Butts, Pastor Emeritus, Monroeville First United Methodist Church

Let me tell you an Easter story. Several years ago one of my unusually smart (and sometimes smart-aleck) preacher friends who knows how I love a story called me and said: Dr. Butts, I am sending you a story. It is yours to tell only if you can be professional enough to tell it without a tear in your eye or quiver in your voice." I took the challenge but lost. You want to try? I do not know the origin of the story, but here it is.

Once upon a time there was a little boy named Philip who was born with Down’s Syndrome. He was a very pleasant and happy child it seemed, but increasingly aware of the difference between himself and other children.

Philip went to Sunday school each Sunday with nine other 8 year-old children. The Sunday School teacher was a very sensitive and creative man. Philip, with his increasingly noticeable difference, was not readily accepted as a member of this third grade Sunday School class. But, this teacher knew how to facilitate a class of 8 year-old children. They learned and they laughed, and they played together. They really cared about each other, even though, as you know, 8 year-olds don’t say they care about each other out loud very often. But the teacher could see it. He also knew that Philip was not really a part of the group. Of course, he did not choose or did he want to be different. He just was.

The Sunday School teacher had a marvelous design for his class on the Sunday after Easter. You know those things that panty hose come in – the containers look like eggs. The teacher collected ten of them to use on that Sunday. The children loved it. Each child was given an egg. It was a beautiful spring day, and the assigned task was for each child to go outside on the church grounds and find a symbol of new life, put it in the egg, and bring it back to the classroom. They would then mix them all up and then all open and share their new life symbols and surprises together one by one.

It was wild as they ran around outside and then came back in and put their eggs on a table. The teacher began to open them one by one. There was a flower in one. Another had a butterfly.
He opened another, and there was a rock. Some laughed and some said, "That’s crazy! How’s a rock supposed to be like new life?" But the smart little boy about whose egg they were speaking spoke up. He said, "That is mine. I knew all of you would get flowers, and buds, and leaves, and butterflies, and stuff like that. So, I got a rock because I wanted to be different. And for me, that’s new life."

The teacher opened the next one and there was nothing there. The children said, "That’s not fair – that’s stupid! – somebody didn’t do right." About that time the teacher felt a tug on his shirt, and he looked down and Philip was standing beside him. "It’s mine," Philip said. "It’s mine." And the children said, "You don’t ever do things right, Philip. There’s nothing in it!" "I did so do it," Philip said. "I did do it. It’s empty – the tomb is empty!"

The class was silent, very silent. And for you people who don’t believe in miracles, one happened that day. From that time on, it was different. Philip suddenly became a part of that group of 8 year-old children. They took him in. He was set free from the tomb of his differentness.
Philip died in the summer of that year. His family had known since the time he was born that he would not live out a full life span. Many other things had been wrong with his tiny little body. In late July, with an infection that most children could have quickly shrugged off, Philip died.
He was buried from the church where he went to Sunday School. At the funeral nine 8 year-old children marched up to the altar – not with flowers to cover the stark reality of death. Nine 8 year-olds, with their Sunday School teacher, marched up to that altar and each laid on it an empty egg – an empty old discarded holder of panty hose.

Sometimes Easter happens in the strangest ways, at the strangest times and in the strangest places. It never lasts long, except as we remember it. It is like a door that opens for a moment and then it closes. And we keep on looking for it again, and again, to remind ourselves that things are not as they seem. There is a different world out there which is more real than the world we see.

Do you understand that? I don’t, but I do believe it.


the_return said...

Benvenuto Μαριαλένα!

Φορτσάτη επέστρεψες εξ Ιταλίας!
(έτσι φαίνεται τουλάχιστον)

Sailor said...

Καλημέρα στην πιο κούκλα της ψυχής
και της καρδιάς,μας έλλειψες.
Έισαι μια ψυχή μοναδική και εγώ
θα κάθομαι τα βράδυα λίγο μετά
τις 10 και Love στους 97,5
και θα γράφω για τις ομορφιές της
ζωής,ταξιδεύοντας σε κόσμους
μαγικούς και ονειρικούς.
Να είσαι καλά όπου και αν είσαι.
Σε ευχαριστώ για τα καλά σου λόγια
που πάντα μου γράφεις
δεν θα σε απογοητεύσω.

ο γιος της θάλασσας !

Marialena said...

Buona cera amici miei, signiori Returno e Capetano del Mare!

Αχ βρε παιδιά φαίνεται πως έχω καρμική σχέση με αυτήν την χώρα γιατί με μαγεύει και με ξεσηκώνει να την ανακαλύψω κάθε φορά που την επισκέπτομαι. Είχα πολλά ερεθίσματα και σ' αυτό μου το ταξίδι, θέλω να πάρουν τη θέση τους μέσα μου και θα μοιραστούμε τις εικόνες της ομορφιάς της Εμίλια Ρομάνα subito! Σας φιλώ, Μ.

the_return said...

Μόνο με την Ιταλία ;
Εσύ πρέπει να έχεις καρμική σχέση με ο,τιδήποτε το ωραίο που υπάρχει σε αυτό το κόσμο.
Τέτοια ψυχή που είσαι...

Marialena said...

Αυτό ξαναπέστο! Πολλές φορές το αισθάνομαι, αλλά και προσπαθώ να βρίσκω την ομορφιά ακόμα και στη πεζή καθημερινότητα, όχι σαν αυτοσκοπό αλλά γιατί αισθάνομαι πως υπάρχει!

Με τιμά αυτό που είπες και σεμνά σ' ευχαριστώ για ότι εξέφρασες!

Serenity said...

"There is a different world out there which is more real than the world we see. Do you understand that? I don’t, but I do believe it."

I believe it, too.
Καλώς όρισες, γλυκιά μου :)
Μας έλειψες! :)

Xνούδι said...

Kαλημέρες ηλιόλουστες Μαριαλένα μου και καλώς μας ήρθες πάλι.

Εγώ είμαι οπαδός του "ερεύνα και μετά πίστευε", οπότε για τον κόσμο που είναι κάπου εκεί έξω, πρέπει πρώτα να τον ανακαλύψω για να πιστέψω στην ύπαρξή του.
Ακόμα στην προσπάθεια είμαι.

Σε φιλώ :-)