Sunday, January 02, 2011

Peter and the King, I

This morning at church was our annual Breakfast with the Wise Men."  As was asked to tell a story.  Over the next few days, I'll tell it to you, with apologizes to those who heard it in person.

We come to this Epiphany breakfast every year, expecting a story about the three wise men who traveled from the East, following the star, leaving gifts for Jesus, but there other kinds of epiphanies, and there are other wise men, and we are called to give of ourselves every day, not just at Christmas.

So, today, I bring you a story about a different wise man. You may have heard of him, but you’ve never seen him in a nativity scene. You’ve probably sung about him, but the words of “We Three Kings” don’t mention him.

Many, many years ago, on a day like one we had last week, a king stood at his window, looking out. The day before had been Christmas Day, and while his family had celebrated the birth of the Christ child, a snow storm had raged outside. Snow had poured from the sky in big, fat flakes, covering everything. This was not what our meteorologists today would call a freezing drizzle – this had been a whopper of a snow fall.

Today was the day after Christmas, a day the people in his town called St. Stephen’s day. The King stood at his window, looking at the town below, as people hustled back and forth, digging out their doorways and clearing the paths between the buildings. In the room behind him, a young boy worked, clearing the king’s papers from his desk, straightening his work. His name was Peter, and as far as the king could tell, Peter was always at work.

"So, Peter, how was your Christmas?”

“Just fine, Sire.”

The king shrugged his shoulders and turned back to the window. He never had much luck getting Peter to talk to him.

Outside the window, in the street, the king saw a man, very poorly dressed, walking through the village. The man wasn’t wearing a coat, and he hunched his back against the cold wind that was blowing. “Peter, do you know who this man is? I don’t recognize him.”

Peter carefully placed a stack of papers on the desk and came to stand by the window. “Oh, yes, sir. I don’t know his name, but I know he lives several miles from here, in the forest, near the foot of the mountains.”

Peter went back to work, and the king stood at the window, watching the man stop at the pub in the square under the window. He couldn’t hear what the man was saying to the pub owner’s wife, but she shook her head and pointed away from the doorway, but to the forest, and turned to go back inside. The man hung his head and walked away from the light.

To be continued tomorrow.



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