COLLECT OF THE WEEK
Gracious Father, whose blessed Son Jesus Christ came down from heaven to be the true bread which gives life to the world: Evermore give us this bread, that he may live in us, and we in him; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen. - Book of Common Prayer, p. 219
…The interior light had further illuminated the stranger’s face, and the man could make out some of his features. At first, he thought he actually recognized the stranger. Somehow, he seemed familiar – but not. His eyes were deep-set, terrifying- but not. He seemed at once kind, but also stern; hopeful, but disappointed. All this registered on the man’s consciousness in an instant, but the terror did not leave him. As he stood there wondering what would happen next, the stranger removed his right hand from the pocket of the sweatshirt, and the man then knew why he had not found his gun. There was nothing he could do. No getting out of this one, nowhere to run. He was going to be a “statistic,” after all. He turned his thoughts to his family, wondering how they would get along without him.
But the stranger just looked at him, almost smiling – but not. He reached out his hand, but instead of ending the man’s life, he handed him back his gun, butt first. “You won’t need this tonight,” the stranger said as the man accepted the gun. Somehow knowing that the stranger was no threat, he put the gun back into its normal place in the door pocket. The range of emotions the man felt at this point was almost indescribable – shock, relief, gratitude that he was not going to be killed out of hand (that one seemed more than an little strange).
Not at all sure he was out of danger, the man turned to the stranger and asked, simply, “Who are you? What do you want from me?” The stranger turned those penetrating eyes on the man and answered. “I have been known by many names down through the ages. Before time began, I was. When time ends, I will be. You know me as Jesus, the Christ of God, Emmanuel. As for the second question, that is for you to answer. Tonight I have given you back your life. What will you do with that gift?” …to be continued.