Monday, November 20, 2006

The Invite

I got the invite delivered direct to my door, it sure looked nice, all gilt edged and that, very posh and just what I have come to expect from one so wealthy.

The headline was in bold font, Times New Roman, you could tell the whole text had been centred and justified, whatever the details, the main thrust was succinct and to the point - Jesus is coming to Dingwall (that’s where I live by the way).

The date was set and all his travel plans arranged, the invite was from the combined unified churches of Dingwall, Easter Ross and Inverness. How wonderful, one heart and one mind, and with me being a churchy type person I got a little addendum to my letter.

In it the organising committee were requesting that only long standing church members in good standing would be invited to fill the first three rows of the church where he would be. Though dress was unimportant to Jesus, it would only be correct to dress in suitable attire to greet such a royal dignitary.

The organisers chose the biggest church building in the town and understandably due to numbers it had become necessary to invite only members in good standing with their home church. Sadly those who had no church connection would not be able to come at this point in time, but it was hoped that a midweek coffee morning could be arranged, obviously dependant upon the messiahs travel plans.

The big day arrived, and what a day, the great and noble of all denominations arrived, special guests had been invited and they strode up to the church building with confidence, bishops, theologians, and a few MSP’s as well. I had never seen so many ministers in fine garb, elders and deacons abounded, well dressed children all sat quietly next to their parents.

The time had come, all the planning, the songs were well rehearsed, the choir and music groups were perfection indeed, the flowers put me in mind of possibly how Eden looked, we even had special commemorative offering plates made. The finest gleaming brass plates, the names of old Scottish saints engraved around the edges.

Hushed silence, it was 11am, the music group struck up with impressive oneness, the sound of ‘Crown him with many Crowns’ burst from the organ and filled the whole building. The stalwart saints of the Highlands filled the air with singing as video cameras panned around. A cacophony of praise swelled the walls, only dying out after a reprise of the first two stanzas. The word came through from the front.

11.08am: “Ladies and Gentlemen, we believe Jesus has been held up in traffic on the A9, he will be here shortly, in the mean time we shall sing another hymn, please turn to number 63 in the combined praise book”

11.15am: “Ladies and Gentlemen, we believe Jesus is on his way and will be here very soon, whilst we wait we will have the intimations.”

11.20am: “Ladies and Gentlemen, we believe Jesus is on the edge of town, as we wait we shall pass around our commemorative offering plate, the offering today will be given toward the ‘Jesus Day’ souvenir bible covers, please leave orders at the back upon dispersal. The covers will be available for £7.99 if pre ordered today, £11.99 if purchased at a later date. Also CD’s of today’s sermon will be available for £5 from Wesley Owen Inverness.

11.25am: “Ladies and Gentlemen, we would ask that all children now go through to the various child activities we have arranged. We will ask Jesus comes in at the close to bless all the children, but due to time constraint we would ask that you do not bring any children to Jesus.

11.30am: “Ladies and Gentlemen, we shall sing one more hymn prior to this morning’s sermon.

11.35am: “Ladies and Gentlemen, our local minister will now bring this mornings word.

12.10am “Ladies and Gentlemen, we shall now go through for coffee, please keep control of your own children, we thank you for coming and hope to see you next week.

What a wonderful day it had been, so regal, so proper, no mistakes no hiccups. I was left with a nagging feeling that we were there for a reason, I couldn’t remember now, oh well, imagine my joy when an invite came through my door on the Monday morning. The headline was in bold font, Times New Roman, you could tell the whole text had been centred and justified, whatever the details, the main thrust was succinct and to the point - Jesus is coming to Dingwall (that’s where I live by the way).

And so it goes, week after week after week, the righteous and great gather to welcome Jesus and I wonder if he ever really turns up, but the question must be where does he go.

That same Sunday, nearby, Jesus approached a nameless housing estate, plagued with bondage, depression and hopelessness, Jesus looks over the estate and weeps, with tears on his face he enters the estate, in his back pocket are a hundred thousand invites, stretching back many years, invites that he has yet to attend.

Sometimes God goes turns up where we least expect him, and we read that whilst the religious and social elite awaited a Messianic figure in Jerusalem

There were sheepherders camping in the neighbourhood. They had set night watches over their sheep. Suddenly, God's angel stood among them and God's glory blazed around them. They were terrified. The angel said, "Don't be afraid. I'm here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for everybody, worldwide: A Saviour has just been born in David's town, a Saviour who is Messiah and Master. This is what you're to look for: a baby wrapped in a blanket and lying in a manger."

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