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One of You Is the Messiah

Recently I came across a fascinating story recounted by M. Scott Peck. At the center of the tale is a once-thriving monastery that over time has been reduced to a shell of its former glory. The abbot, concerned that the few remaining elderly monks could not sustain the ministry, went to the woods surrounding the monastery to pray.

Deep in the woods was a little hut that a rabbi from a nearby village used for retreats. It was there where the abbot encountered the rabbi, an old friend. As the two religious leaders talked about the good old days gone by, the abbot asked the rabbi if he had anything to offer that might save his dying order of monks. The rabbi’s cryptic reply was simply, “One of you is the Messiah.”

Upon returning to the monastery the abbot shared the rabbi’s insight with his fellow monks. As you might imagine, none of them could believe the rabbi’s crazy pronouncement, for they knew one another’s faults all too well. Yet, in the days and weeks and months that followed, change began to take place as the monks pondered the rabbi’s words. “What if the rabbi is right?” they asked themselves. “What if one of us is the Messiah?”. In time the elderly monks began to treat one another with newfound respect on the off chance that one of them might be the Messiah.

The new aura of respect soon permeated every aspect of their ministry. One by one, people began returning to the monastery because there was something strangely attractive, even compelling about it. Within a few years the monastery became a vibrant center of light and hope throughout the region.

The tale, recast in different forms over the years, holds a powerful lesson for us. The monastery, experiencing years of decline prompted by events beyond the people’s ability to control, only experienced positive change after the monks began to wonder if Brother Philip, or Abbot Thomas, or another person in their midst was the Messiah. For when we see Christ in the face of one another we act differently. We treat one another differently. Perhaps this explains why the story of “The Rabbi’s Gift” has been told throughout the ages, precisely because we all need to be reminded from time to time that in my neighbor, I encounter Christ!

So perhaps this is our challenge as a community of faith moving forward into an unknown future together. May we focus less on messages of scarcity and decline and instead look for the presence of the Risen Christ in the faces of one another.

In Christ’s Peace,
Pastor Jon

Tags: Weekly Word