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Wonderful – Marvellous

A rich man went to his vicar and said, “I want you and your wife to take a three-month trip to the Holy Land at my expense.  When you come back, I’ll have a surprise for you”.  The vicar accepted the offer, and he and his wife went off to the Middle East.

Three months later they returned home and were met by the wealthy parishioner, who told them that while they were gone, he had had a new church built.  “It’s the finest building money can buy, vicar,” said the man.  “No expense was spared.” And he was right.  It was a magnificent edifice both outside and in.

But there was one striking difference.  There was only one pew, and it was at the very back.  “A church with only one pew?” asked the vicar.

“You just wait until Sunday,” the rich man said.

When the time came for the Sunday service, the early arrivals entered the church, filed onto the one pew and sat down.  When the pew was full, a switch clicked silently, a circuit closed, the gears meshed, a belt moved and, automatically, the rear pew began to move forward.  When it reached the front of the church, it came to a stop.  At the same time, another empty pew came up from below at the back and more people sat down.  And so it continued, pews filling and moving forwards until finally the church was full, from front to back.

“Wonderful!” said the vicar, “Marvelous!”

The service began, and the vicar started to preach his sermon.  He launched into his text and, when 12 o’clock came, he was still going strong, with no end in sight.  Suddenly a bell rang, and a trap door in the floor behind the pulpit dropped open.

“Wonderful!” said the congregation, “Marvelous!”

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The Rich Man

Scripture Reference: Luke 16 verses 1-13

The basic point is this: Christ is saying, with dry humour, if only the Christian was as eager and ingenious in his attempt to attain goodness as the men of the world are in their attempts to attain money and comfort.

In other words, Jesus wants us to act with the same intensity in our discipleship toward him as the rascals, cheats, and crooks act in their attempt to gain comfort and wealth.

There was once a wealthy Highland landowner. He was more than richly endowed with this world’s goods and had a stately mansion overlooking a beautiful glen. He was a hard-headed businessman, and had a tendency to cut corners to achieve his ends – even if that included trampling over other people.  In his life, he was number ONE, and everybody else, including his tenants and employees came far down his list of priorities.

But there was a basic emptiness in his life. He had no religious belief, he lived alone, possessed by his possessions and his desire to get wealthier and wealthier

In the gate house at the entrance to his estate lived John his farm manager. John was a man of simple faith and deep religious commitment. With his family he was a regular churchgoer, and often in the evening when John opened the gate to admit the laird, his employer habitually would see out of the corner of his eye noticed John’s family on their knees in prayer. This sight never ceased to amuse him.

One morning the laird was looking out on the valley resplendent in the rising sun. As he gazed on the beautiful scene he was saying to himself, ‘It is all mine’ when he heard the doorbell ringing. Going down he found John on the doorstep. ‘What’s the matter John?’ he asked, ‘are the horses all right?’

John looked embarrassed. ‘Aye sir,’ he replied. ‘Sir, could I have a word with you?’ He was invited in on to plush carpet, a striking contrast between their life-styles.

‘Sir,’ said John hesitantly, ‘last night I had a dream, and in it the Lord told me that the richest man in the glen would die tonight at midnight. I felt I should tell you. I just had to come to you, sir, as I felt you should know’.

The laird dismissed him, but John’s words kept bothering him, so much so that he took out his car and went to the local doctor for a complete check-up. The GP examined him, pronounced him fit as a fiddle and said he would give him another twenty years.

The laird was relived but a lingering doubt caused him to invite the doctor around for dinner and a few drinks that evening. They enjoyed a sumptuous meal together and shortly after 11.30 the doctor got up to leave but the laird prevailed on him to remain on for a few nightcaps.

Eventually when midnight passed and he was still in the land of the living he saw the doctor to the door and then went up the stairs muttering, ‘Stupid old John…upset my whole day… him and his blasted dreams!’

No sooner was he in bed when he heard the doorbell ringing. It was half past midnight.

Going down he found a grief-stricken girl at the door whom he recognised instantly as John’s teenage daughter.

‘Sir,’ she said, looking at him through her tears, ‘Ma sent me to tell you that Dad died at midnight.’

The laird froze as it was suddenly made clear to him who was the richest man in the valley.

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The Quakers tell the story of one of their number who put up a sign on a vacant piece of ground next to his house. The sign read,


A wealthy farmer rode by, read the sign, then went to the owner’s house. He said to the Quaker, “I may as well have the land you are offering because I qualify: I am rich. I have everything I need. I am satisfied.” “Are thee really satisfied?” the Quaker asked. “Yes, I have everything I need and I am well satisfied,” said the rich man. “My friend,” said the Quaker, “if thee is satisfied, why does thee want my land?”


In the Gospels, Jesus gives us a sign that reads,

I will give peace of mind and heart and soul, I will give contentment to all persons who acknowledge the Gospel Truth of a loving God who wants them to express their love for Him through their love for one another.

God is Love! The Mystery of God is the Mystery of Love! In God’s Wisdom, we are given our best human glimpse into this awesome Mystery in and through our love for one another. And, in God’s Wisdom, that is enough for now.

Be satisfied … Be content! And live accordingly!

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