It was a glorious, sunny Sunday morning at Prosperous Prayer Fellowship. Potted fresh flowers filled the spacious, gleaming, brand-new facility, creating a Spring-like atmosphere. The congregation was neatly dressed in their best Sunday outfits, excitedly anticipating a great day.
Exuding with joy, Pastor Steve greeted the congregation. “Good Morning! God gave us a beautiful day for the first service in our new building. Everyone, please welcome our distinguished members--the Mayor, Police Chief and their wives.” As Pastor Steve motioned to both couples, sitting front-and-center on the first pew, the entire fellowship clapped, some even cheered, and rose to their feet in a standing ovation.
Pastor Steve loudly clapped with them for almost an entire minute.
After everyone sat back down, Pastor began his sermon. “God gave me a special message, just for today.” Nervously, he picked up his Bible. “I’m reading from the gospel of Luke, Chapter 14, beginning at verse 15--The Story of the Dinner Party.”
That triggered a response from one of the guests: "How fortunate the one who gets to eat dinner in God's kingdom!" Jesus followed up. "Yes. For there was once a man who threw a great dinner party and invited many. When it was time for dinner, he sent out his servant to the invited guests, saying, 'Come on in; the food's on the table.'
Suddenly there was the sound of a crash, followed by a commotion in the back of the church. Two flower baskets and stands were dumped on the floor, and flailing in the middle of the mess was a disheveled, homeless man.
The entire fellowship turned to look. Ushers rushed to grab the homeless man, and intended to eject him.
Pastor Steve interrupted, “Wait! Let him come in.”
The miserable man crawled about half-way up the center aisle, and then slowly pulled himself up, using a pew arm. He spoke to a frightened lady sitting on the end, “Oh, H-hallo. Th-thank you. ”
The lady waved her hand in front of her face, and whispered to her husband, “Whew! He smells—I think he’s drunk.”
He stumbled forward, and fell three times. He finally made his way to the front pew, and sat next to the Mayor.
“Welcome, sir to Prosperous Prayer Fellowship.”
“Well….th-thank you, P-pastor. P-p-preach it!” Then, the homeless man loudly burped.
The Mayor leapt up and spoke. “How can you let this—mess—in here, especially today?” Get this wretched man out of here!”
Pastor Steve ignored him. “Let me read on.”
Then they all began to beg off, one after another making excuses. The first said, 'I bought a piece of property and need to look it over. Send my regrets.'
The homeless man raised one hand and shouted, “Hallelujah!” He reached into an inside pocket of his tattered army jacket and pulled out a small paper bag.
He began to drink from it.
“Pastor, I DEMAND you remove this man now. If you don’t, I’ll have the Chief arrest him.”
Pastor Steve looked down, then back at the Mayor. “Mr. Mayor: I understand. We can’t go on with all these constant interruptions.” He signaled to the ushers, and they almost ran to the front of the church. “I hate to do this, but—“ The ushers looked at Pastor Steve. “Please remove the Mayor.”
“I’ll continue. Verse 21:”
"The servant went back and told the master what had happened. He was outraged and told the servant, 'Quickly, get out into the city streets and alleys. Collect all who look like they need a square meal, all the misfits and homeless and wretched you can lay your hands on, and bring them here.'
“My good friends, we should welcome all souls, especially the misfits and the homeless.”
On queue, the homeless man stood up, taking off his moldy baseball cap, jacket and fake beard: It was Assistant Pastor Mike.
The fellowship was shocked.
“Pastor Mike, please tell us about your dream.”
...An angel appeared and announced, “Fear not” and took me by the hand. Immediately we flew over the city and landed near City Hall. During a press conference charade, the Mayor and Police Chief were congratulating each other for bringing the crime rate down. Then, the Angel showed me—as the men spoke—a crime underway. It was an armed robbery, with several homeless people caught in the crossfire.
The angel explained, “Take this message: Remember the homeless.”
Then--moved with conviction deep in their hearts--the fellowship fell to their knees one-by-one, and repented.
Reference: Luke 14:15-24 (The Message)
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