A Knock At The Door

16 Dec

It started out as a nice church program for children in the neighborhood.  Costumes.  Food.  Fun.  Games.  A recipe for a great time.

The focus of the evening was an Advent program called Las Posadas.  It is a reenactment of the Joseph and Mary journey to Bethlehem where they seek shelter but find only a rough stable in which their first child is born.  But before the stable became their temporary home, according to the legend, they were turned away from inns and other living quarters because there was no room available.  In the reenactment of the couple’s search for warmth, food, and a place to sleep, costumed characters, followed by lots of children from the church, walk through the neighborhood, pausing several times to symbolically knock on a door, only to be rejected and turned away into the night.  Finally, in one last effort, the characters come back to the church, knock on the door and receive an invitation to come inside for refreshment and rest.  “You are welcome here,” the innkeeper-actor announces, and brings them in from the night cold to tables filled with food and drink.

So, last night was Las Posadas, and went quite well.  The procession found its way back to the church, everyone came inside and the party began.

I walked back into the kitchen where we had prepared the feast, watched for a moment as children sang and danced and filled their plates.  And then there was a knock at the door.  Not the front door through which the children had come, but the back door that opened onto a rather dark parking lot.  Opening the door, I found a man standing in the dim light holding a frayed cap in one hand and a small plastic bag in the other.  “I saw a light on”, he said, “and I wondered if you might have some way to heat up this food.”

There wasn’t much in his bag, maybe a scoop of something he had left from several small meals.  “I’m hungry,” he continued, “and I thought you might be able to help me.”  He was living on the street, homeless like many people who come to the church food pantry and take part in social services ministries.  And at that moment he was cold and hungry.

The beautiful irony of the moment was overwhelming.  Just minutes before, we had welcomed costumed homeless travelers who sought warmth and food.  The reenactment of the ancient story linked us with very important faith history and reminded us of hospitality and generosity. But the one who knocked at the back door was not costumed and perhaps he didn’t even know the old story.  The timing of his appearing was breathtaking.   

We put his little bag aside and took him into the larger room where he became part of the celebration.  He feasted and watched the festivities, met new friends, and feasted some more.  Several hours later he left, his frayed cap in one hand and a larger bag of food in the other.  As he walked into the night, he turned and blessed us.  Indeed, he did.

It started out as a nice church program for children in the neighborhood.  It ended as reenactment was transformed into reality.

The timing was perfect.

3 Responses to “A Knock At The Door”

  1. lalbright125 December 18, 2013 at 1:50 am #

    This is a wonderful story. How special to have been a part of making it happen. Lynne

  2. 14250sc January 18, 2014 at 5:09 pm #

    If that doesn’t touch one’s heart, nothing will. There are no coincidences…

  3. 14250sc January 18, 2014 at 5:11 pm #

    Beautiful. No coincidences…

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