I was so hoping to fit the Monk Story (as I call it) into my sermon this week, but it's not going to happen. Therefore I'm going to tell you all the monk story.
Once there was a monastery with a bunch of old monks. No new monks had come for a long time. There was a monk that annoyed everyone because he slurped his soup. There was a crotchety old monk. There was a monk who irritatingly kept track of who arrived a few seconds late for mass. There was a monk who snored so loudly everyone else could hear him. All of the monks were pretty set in their ways and sometimes were...well...not subtle about the ways other monks annoyed them.
The abbot was not at all sure what to do about this or about the fact that the monastery was going to die with them, so he went to visit a hermit in the woods. After hearing the story (over a cup of tea of course!), the hermit said "well, I don't know how to bring more monks to your monastery, but I do know something: one of you is God."
well, the abbot sure was surprised to hear that! He went back to the monastery wondering who it might be--the slurper? The snorer? the time-keeper? bad-tempered-bob? He gathered the few remaining old monks and told them what the hermit had said. They were quite excited to hear this, but also desperate to know who it was! They left the chapter-house all-abuzz.
Well, not knowing who was God, they began to treat each other as if each one might be God, they began looking for Christ in each other. Soon enough the atmosphere of the place changed from one of grumpiness to one of joy. The very air was vibrant. Soon people began to flock to the monastery to try to learn what these monks knew...and the monastery grew and thrived. And they never did figure out which of them was God.
I love this story. I like it almost as much as the camel story, which will wait for another day because right now I am procrastinating on turning the 1700 words I have already written into something resembling a sermon.