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Sunday, 27 April 2014

Philip's egg.

At Café Church, Bergerac, today, my good friend Brian L mentioned that he had read the post that referred to the eggciting Resurrection Day worship service in Dalziel-St.Andrew's, Motherwell, in which the eggcellent minister used some plastic eggs, in an eggsuberantly eggspert fashion, to get the full story of the Day across to the children.

He had intended sharing the following true story at Café Church, but there was so much to be included that he decided that there was insufficient time.  He asked if I would like to share it on my blog, and I am more than happy to do so.  Have a tissue handy!

"He was 9 - in a Sunday-school class of 8-year-olds.  Eight-year-olds can be cruel.

These children did not welcome Philip into their group.  Not just because he was older.  He was 'different'.  He suffered from Downs Syndrome and its obvious manifestations: facial characteristics; slow responses; symptoms of retardation.

One Sunday, after Easter, the Sunday-school teacher led the children in an activity using plastic eggs - the kind that pull apart in the middle.  The Sunday-school teacher gave one of these eggs to each child.

On that beautiful Spring day, each child was to go outdoors and discover, for themselves, some symbol of 'new life', and place that symbolic seed, or leaf, or whatever, inside their egg.

The youngsters gathered round on the appointed day, and placed their eggs on the table, and the teacher began to open them.  One child had found a flower.  All of the children 'oohed' and 'aahed' at the lovely symbol of new life.  In another was a butterfly.  'Beautiful', the girls said - and it's not easy for an 8-year-old to say 'Beautiful'!

Another egg was opened to reveal a stone.  Some of the children laughed.  'That's crazy!', one said.  'How's a stone supposed to be like a new life?'  Immediately, a little boy spoke up.  'That's mine.  I knew that everybody would get flowers, and leaves, and butterflies, and all that stuff, so I got a stone to be different!' Everybody laughed.

The teacher opened the last egg, and there was nothing inside.  'That's not fair', someone said.  'That's stupid', said another.  The teacher felt a tug on his shirt.  It was Philip.  Looking up, he said, 'It's mine.  I did do it.  It's empty.  I have new life because the tomb is empty.'

The class fell silent.

From that day on, Philip became part of the group.  They welcomed him.  Whatever had made him 'different' was never mentioned again.

Philip's family had known that he would not live a long life; just too many things were wrong with his tiny body.  That summer, overcome with infection, Philip died.

On the day of his funeral service, nine 8-year-old boys and girls confronted the reality of death, and marched up to the front of the church building - but not with flowers.

Nine children, with their Sunday-school teacher, placed on the coffin of their friend their gift of love - an empty egg."

Jesus is risen; the stone is rolled away; the tomb is empty.  And because He lives, so do all who have placed their trust, unreservedly, in Him.  Hallelujah!

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