The New Guideposts Christmas Treasury (3) tells a story of a little girl was wasn’t easy to love. Her name was Phyllis, and her Sunday School Teacher tells this story about her:
"Phyllis wasn’t an easy child to love...sometimes I did wish she wasn’t in the particular Sunday School class that I taught...She never sat still. She hated to be touched, and she always had to have the last word."
Her teacher tried to give Phyllis a speaking part, but Phyllis refused ""I’m probably going to a party that night," she said grandly. "Lord," I prayed silently, "please help me love Phyllis". "Well I do have a few more parts if you change your mind." "I won’t" Phyllis said, and she didn’t."
At the rehearsal, the teacher heard ""Mary doesn’t act like she’s going to have a baby" muttered a husky little voice behind me. Phyllis might not have any desire to be in the program, but she wouldn’t miss the rehearsal. "Shhhh" I whispered, reaching back to pat Phyllis’s hand. She jerked it away, saying "Okay Okay"
In the last scene, only a spotlight shone on the holy family, and the children hummed "Silent Night". It was beautiful-- but who was that moving in front of the manger? Phyllis You never knew where that child was going to pop up next. Now she stuck her hand into the manger, squeezed the doll’s arm, and disappeared back into the shadows.
"Phyllis", I called, "what are you doing uup there?"
"I’m just looking," she said, "Besides it’s not a baby. It’s just a doll. I felt it."
"Lord, please help me love Phyllis".
...By 6:45 the air was bristling with excitment backstae...There was no Phyllis to be seen and I began to relax... As the organ chimed the beginnning of the service, I took my prompters seat in the front pew. With the opening strains of "Watchman, Tell Us of the Night", the lights came up on the manger scene, and the narrator began...
I felt something bump my knee and give a little shgove. "Move over," muttered an all too familiar voice. "I decided not to go to the party."
... The angels sang to the shepherds. The shepherds went to Bethlehem and took a lamb for the baby. The wisemen went to see herod and then to the stable. And Mary sat there, "pondering these things in her heart." It was lovely. Phyllis sat beside me so quietly that I forgot all about her, and when I realized she was gone it was too late".
She stomped her way right up to the manger, just as she had done during rehearsal. But this time she stiffened, awe-struck, then turned, eyes wide with wonder, and came hurrying back to me.
"He’s alive" she said to me in a penetrating whisper.
Across the aisle, someone asked, "What did she say?"
"She said, "He’s alive’
"Lile ripples in a pond, the word passed from pew to pew, all the way to the back of the sanctuary. "He’s alive...alive...alive."
... I put my arm around Phyllis... "You wre the best part of the program" I said into her ear... "It wasn’t in the program" she said, but she didn’t push me away.
Christ was love
(3) - The New Guideposts Christmas Treasury, "Christmas - As Mysterious as Ever", by Doris Swehla, pp. 78-81
Related Sermon Illustrations
Contributed by Larry Thompson on Jun 6, 2002
Last week I read in the advice column in the paper about a couple who was celebrating 50 years of marriage. The husband wrote that someone commented, ¡§Ken, 50 years is a long time.¡¨ He immediately responded: ¡§Not nearly as long as it would have been without her.¡¨ I couldn¡¦t get the man¡¦s ...read more
Contributed by Jim Kane on Jun 6, 2002
Families are wonderful. Families are challenging. I am reminded of this every time I see my favorite Cosby Show episode in which Cliff, the father played by Bill Cosby, and Theo, the son played by Malcolm Jamal-Warner, have a chat about Theo’s desire to live like a “regular” person rather than ...read more
Contributed by Ed Wood on Jun 3, 2002
James Reston was a syndicated columnist for The New York Times for more that thirty years. In his final column for the newspaper, he wrote, “In America, we have learned something about how to deal with adversity since the Great Depression, but not much about how to deal with prosperity. We are very ...read more
Contributed by Donnie Martin on Jun 6, 2002
Faith and works should travel side-by-side, step answering to step, like the legs of men walking. First faith, and then works; and then faith again, and then works again—until they can scarcely distinguish which is the one and which is the other. William ...read more
Contributed by Paul Fritz on Jun 1, 2002
SHOOTING AT THE SAINTS It is said that when the British and French were fighting in Canada in the 1750s, Admiral Phipps, commander of the British fleet, was told to anchor outside Quebec. He was given orders to wait for the British land forces to arrive, then support them when they attacked the ...read more
Contributed by Steven Chapman on Feb 6, 2007
In these 25 verses, most of which do read something like a phone directory, we have the theological stage set for all of the rest of Matthew’s gospel. And not only is the shape set forth for the rest of the gospel, the shape and form of the entire New Te