November 30, 2010

Accepting a Christmas Gift

A father and son had an argument over a piece of valuable property. The land was in the father's will to be passed on to the son, but the boy wanted it immediately.

When the father resisted the demands, the son broke off the relationship. He rarely came home, and when he did, he ignored his father.

Then one Christmas, the boy’s mother convinced him to come home for the Holiday. On Christmas Eve the boy opened all his presents except the one from his father. The next day when the son left, the gift remained behind.

What the lad didn’t know was that his father’s gift was the deed to the desired property.

Many of us make the same mistake. Life can be hard, and sometimes it's difficult to cope, but there is a gift that was given to each of us 2000 years ago that can ease our burdens and help us to cope with adversity.

It’s a gift of love straight from the heart of God that we can accept gratefully or leave lying under the tree. What will you decide?

November 21, 2010

Bond of Gratitude

There is an ancient legend about two angels I’ll call Hannah and Haylee whose turn it was to gather the prayers of the people. Wherever people prayed, Hannah and Haylee stopped and gathered the prayers in baskets. Hannah gathered requests and Haylee gathered prayers of Thanksgiving.

When their task was completed, Hannah’s basket was overflowing, and Haylee’s was practically empty.

In the Gospel story about giving thanks, Jesus healed ten lepers whose bodies were covered with gangrenous and festering sores. Their clothes were torn, their hair disheveled, and they were required to announce their presence wherever they went by calling out, “Unclean.” Jesus healed all ten lepers, but only one was able, thoughtful and appreciative enough to say “Thank you.”

Not everyone is willing or capable to do that. Perhaps it’s because there is a sort of submissiveness or humility about expressing gratitude. A self-centered person will take great pains to avoid a situation in which he or she must, or ought to, express gratitude for gifts received.

As we gather together with family and friends on Thanksgiving Weekend, may our prayers reflect our faith in our Creator and acknowledge our appreciation for the blessings we have received. Even if other ties with God are strained or even broken, the bond of gratitude will always bind us to Him.

Thank you for reading Contemporary Parables.

November 8, 2010

Preparing for Advent

It was October 23, 1983 in Beruit, Lebanon when a suicide bomber plowed a truck into the barracks where over 300 U.S. troops slept. The largest non-nuclear bomb in history pulverized the concrete fortress killing 241 service members, most of them Marines, the most killed in a single engagement since the landing on Iwo Jima in World War II.

In a hospital in West Germany, a severely wounded Marine just moments away from death, was approached by the Commandant of the Marine Corps to offer encouragement.

The wounded Marine looked up from his death bed, and with obvious difficulty, greeted the Commandant with two words, the motto of the Marine Corps, “Semper Fi,” short for “Semper Fidelis” meaning “Always Faithful.”

Even as he prepared to die, the Marine expressed a commitment to something greater than himself __ his faithfulness, dedication and loyalty to the Corps, his fellow Marines and his Country.

In Proverbs we read, “Do not let loyalty and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablets of your heart."

In the weeks ahead as we prepare for another Advent Season, may we rededicate ourslves to expressions of loyalty and faithfulness to our Savior whose birthday we celebrate at Christmas.