Four churches stand proudly…one on each corner…a picturesque frame for the town square…all with different views.
One stranger sits on a painted wooden bench in the small park in the middle of the square. Beautiful lush greenery and colorful flowers decorate the peaceful scene. A magnificent clear fountain flows with a soothing rhythm and squirrels scamper from tree to tree.
Where are the people?
The stranger ponders this from under his handsome hat and from behind his dark glasses as he taps his unusual cane on the cobblestone sidewalk beneath his well-shod feet.
The sky is blue and birds are singing. What a lovely backdrop. As he scans the Sunday-quiet area, the doors to each of the churches open and a goodly number of people spill out; some stop to shake hands with what appears to be their respective ministers. All but one church group drift away to parking lots. Only members of that one begin to wander around the charming park.
They ignore the man on the bench.
He listens and observes.
This is public property but no one, except this particular bunch, comes near or crosses through to the other side.
One week passes. The same stranger sits on the same bench under more skies of blue, eager to see if such a peculiar occurrence repeats itself.
At about the same time as before, after the weekly exodus from all four buildings, some of the congregation from the church on the opposite corner stroll around the park. Children laugh and run and grownups discuss the service they just left or decide on afternoon plans.
They ignore the stranger.
He continues to rest on the bench until all the chattering folks have gone. He’s thrilled to see the clergy from each house of worship open their doors and head for the park. Without hesitation, they settle into seats around a picnic table by a big oak tree.
Warm brotherly greetings speak volumes, and then they pray.
The stranger moves closer, as if inspecting the beautiful fountain. He must hear. He must.
“Well…Pastor Bob, Reverend Joe, and Father Mark, I think it’s working.”
Pastor Bob responds.
“Yes, Parson Paul, by taking turns using this park on the Sabbath, we have found a way to stem the angry confrontations.”
They all nod in agreement.
The tall, handsome one reminds them, “We all realize we were forced to take drastic steps and that this is a temporary fix.”
“That’s true,” says the serious-sounding one. “I mean, having the police arrive to break up a real fist fight over differences in Scripture interpretation was way over the line. It’s not like we disagree on Jesus being the Son of God and dying for the remission of our sins, and the Holy Spirit being the Supreme Comforter.”
Father Mark shares his frustration. “I have tried to gently chastise my folks, but you know how softly we have to tread the muddy waters of political correctness.”
They are all in one accord--brothers in Christ.
Parson Paul states the obvious. "Leading stubborn sheep is difficult, at best. Today we need to decide the next step. Enforced division to stop bad behavior is just wrong on every level.”
Again, each one nods, lost in his own complicated thoughts regarding his particular parishioners.
The stranger strolls to the devout summit in progress and leans against the huge oak tree. He taps his cane against its bark and they all raise their bowed heads at the same time, somewhat taken aback.
He tips his hat and greets them.
There’s barely any movement--for what seems like eternity--as he delivers his unequivocal message. His wisdom and advice is beautiful music to their hungry ears as he lays out a workable plan for teaching love, without trespassing against uncompromising Biblical truth.
As dusk begins to push for recognition, the four men walk over to the crystal clear fountain and sit on its wide rim. They remove their shoes and socks, roll up their trouser legs, and plunge their bare feet into the soothing cool water.
It’s a sight to see. The song they sing in harmony is a sweet, sweet sound. It does not dawn on them until they rise to leave that the strange soft-spoken man in the hat has disappeared. His cane is propped against the oak tree.
They do not see it, as each one--called by God to preach and teach for the sake of the Gospel--goes His special way.
1 Peter 1:12 (NLT)
They were told that their messages were not for themselves, but for you. And now this Good News has been announced to you by those who preached in the power of the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. It is all so wonderful that even the angels are eagerly watching these things happen.
Hebrews 13:2 (NKJV)
Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels.
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