Pentecost 2016

Fr. Jude Botelho:

Film: 'Being John Malkovich'
In the very strange 1999 surrealist movie "Being John Malkovich", someone discovers a portal into Malkovich's mind, enabling visitors to see and experience things through his body and to influence his actions. He becomes aware of what's happening and finds the portal himself. At the climax of the movie, there is a bizarre but powerful scene when he enters the portal, being swept down a dark tunnel with a roaring sound to emerge as a participant/observer in his own world. He discovers that everyone has his face and his voice, and every word spoken is his name. Connections with the Pentecost story: - the paradox of the creator entering his own creation by an unexplainable power; - the potential of the portal to connect people in an unprecedented kind of indwelling. - seeing the face of Malkovich everywhere reminds me of the Spirit making Jesus present through us in a new and all-encompassing way. We are recognisably Christ-like, though still ourselves, and all we say and do is 'in his name'. It's a frightening moment in the movie, because Malkovich has no wish to become omnipresent as a Christ-figure, but the image is powerful.
From film insights by Marnie Barrel in 'The Text this Week' Points System
There was this secondary school teacher who died and arrived at the gates of heaven. He was calmly walking in through the entrance, when Peter stopped him and said, "Hi, hold on there! Where are you going?" "I'm going in there." replied the teacher to which Peter replied "Oh no, you're not! It's not that simple. Just like you had in your secondary-level education, we also have a points system in operation here." "Oh, I didn't know that" said the teacher. "What is your system? How many points do I require?" "We have set one thousand points as requirement for entry into heaven" said Peter. "Now tell me something about yourself, and why you expect to get in this door." The teacher took a deep breath, stuck out his chest (this was his big moment) and said "I went to mass every morning for the past forty years." "Very good" said Peter. "That's one point." The poor teacher was completely taken aback, and was nearly struck dumb when Peter asked "And tell me, what else did you do along the journey of life?" The teacher gathered himself together, and had another go. "I was in the S.V.P., and in several Third World Charities, and I collected a lot of money over the years". "How much?" asked Peter. "Probably forty or fifty thousand pounds" said the teacher. "Very good." said Peter. "That's another point." By now the poor teacher was completely deflated and he muttered to himself under his breath "I'm afraid it's only by the grace of God I'm going to get there."  Peter heard him and looked him straight in the eye and said "You are perfectly correct. It is only be the grace of God and His Spirit that you'll ever be able to enter those gates. If you really believe that, go right in, because that, my dear friend, is a thousand points!" At Pentecost God gave us the most precious gift of His Spirit freely to all who believed!

The Role of the Holy Spirit in our lives
A renowned Italian violinist, violist, cellist, guitarist and composer, Niccolo Paganini, was due to perform one night in a very prestigious Concert Hall in Paris. Even as he walked on stage, the audience stood up and cheered with irrepressible excitement and heart-warming esteem. Resting his violin under his chin, the celebrated musician began to play with such dexterity and brilliance that the audience listened in spell bound silence. Suddenly one string on the violin snapped. But the consummate professional was not deterred. On the contrary, he continued to play with three strings, and the music was just as fascinating and impressive. Moments later, a second string snapped; and minutes later the third... The crowd gasped in stunned disbelief. What was Paganini going to do? Would he bow and leave gracefully? Without losing his cool, the famous maestro raised his hand, called for silence and announced: "Ladies and gentlemen, you are about to hear Paganini on one string." What followed thereafter literally took everyone's breath away - the performance was flawless, the music exquisite, the entertainment heavenly and on just one string! Such was the incomparable touch of the master's hand. -This extraordinary story aptly describes the singular and marvelous role of the Holy Spirit in our personal lives. A wise author summarized that role in this thought-provoking maxim: "God does not look at our ability or inability; all God wants is our availability."
James Valladares in 'Your Words are Spirit, and they are Life'

By the power of His Spirit
At 7:15 a.m. on September 5, 1987, Dr. Ben Carson, an American paediatric neurosurgeon, assisted by a team of most skilled surgeons, physicians, anaesthetists and nursing staff, performed the critical separation of the seven-year-old German twins, Patrick and Benjamin Binder, precariously joined at the back of the head - a delicate and critical operation that lasted 22 agonizing hours. And when it had been successfully accomplished, Dr. Carson lifted his eyes to God and whispered, "Thank you, God, thank you. I know you had a hand in this." Dr. Carson humbly ascribed his phenomenal success to two special persons -Almighty God and his mother, Sonya. A single parent, Sonya had worked tirelessly at two and even three jobs, whatever she could find, to make ends meet and educate her two sons. Above all, she was a devout believer with an unshakeable faith in God. So when her son Ben declared his dream of being a doctor, that noble woman said: "Bennie, listen to me. If you ask the Lord for something and believe He will do it, then it will happen." Ben Carson went on to become one of America's best paediatric neurosurgeons. -Despite our human frailties, limitations and imperfections, the Holy Spirit is able to achieve the most marvelous results in and through us, because God's power is almighty, his wisdom inscrutable, and his love unfathomable.
James Valladares in 'Your Words are Spirit, and they are Life'

They were all together
A pastor once heard that one of his parishioners was going about announcing to one and all that he would no longer attend church services. The rebellious parishioner was advancing the familiar argument that he could communicate with God just as easily out in the fields, with nature as his setting for worship. One winter evening the pastor called on this reluctant member of his flock for a friendly visit. The two men sat before the fireplace making small talk, but studiously avoiding the issue of church attendance. After a while, the pastor took the tongs from the rack next to the fireplace and pulled a single coal from the fire. He placed the glowing ember on the hearth. As the two watched in silence, the coal quickly ceased burning and turned ashen grey, while the other coals in the fire continued to burn brightly. The pastor's silent message was not lost on the parishioner. After a long pause, he turned to the pastor and said, "I'll be back at services next Sunday." We read in the Scriptures that 'When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled, they were all in one place together."
John Pichappilly in 'The Table of the Word'

From From Fr Tony Kadavil and Others:

1.     Neighbourhood 

Once upon a time a new family moved into a neighborhood. It was a nice neighborhood and it was very close to where the Daddy worked, so close he could walk to work. There was only one thing wrong with the neighborhood. Most people weren’t Irish! Yes, that’s true there are such neighborhoods! They were Mexican and Thai, Jewish and Korean, Japanese and Indian, Polish and Columbian, Lebanese and Chinese and just about every other nationality that you could imagine. The children in the neighborhood swarmed around the new kids. Are you really Irish? We don’t have any Irish living in our neighborhood. What’s it like to be Irish? Can you teach us Irish songs and dances and tell us Irish stories?  

 Our new family was not dumb at all. They realized that there was some pay-off in being different. They had to look up Irish songs and stories and learn some Irish dances. They became very popular. They also learned a lot about all the strange people (i.e. those that were not Irish in their neighborhood and decided that while they were not Irish it wasn’t their fault and they were pretty cool kids anyway. They loved the cooking even if some of it was a little too spicy. Do you want to move back to the old neighborhood, their parents asked them anxiously. No way, said the kids, God made us all different and we enjoy it! All Irish neighborhoods are BORING!

2.     Are you Pentecostal? 

The well-known author and preacher Fred Craddock tells a rather funny story about a lecture he was giving: A few years ago, when he was on the west coast speaking at a seminary, just before the first lecture, one of the students stood up and said, "Before you speak, I need to know if you are Pentecostal." The room grew silent. Craddock said he looked around for the Dean of the seminary! He was nowhere to be found. The student continued with his quiz right in front of everybody. Craddock was taken aback, and so he said, "Do you mean do I belong to the Pentecostal Church?" He said, "No, I mean are you Pentecostal?" Craddock said, "Are you asking me if I am charismatic?" the student said, "I am asking you if you are Pentecostal." Craddock said, "Do you want to know if I speak in tongues?" He said, "I want to know if you are Pentecostal." Craddock said, "I don't know what your question is." The student said, "Obviously, you are not Pentecostal." He left.

What are we talking about this morning? Is the church supposed to use the word Pentecost only as a noun or can it be used as an adjective? And so I ask you: Are you Pentecostal?

In spite of the fact that the church doesn't know what the adjective means, the church insists that the word remain in our vocabulary as an adjective. The church is unwilling for the word simply to be a noun, to represent a date, a place, an event in the history of the church, refuses for it to be simply a memory, an item, something back there somewhere. The church insists that the word is an adjective; it describes the church. The word, then, is "Pentecostal." 

If the church is alive in the world it is Pentecostal. And you thought we were Methodist!

 How do we keep this aliveness, this fire burning, this spirit moving? What must exist in us, around us, and through us, if we are to be Pentecostal? Simply these three things:

 1. We Are To Be Of One Accord
2. We Are To Join Together Constantly in Prayer
3. We Are To Repent 


3.     Broken English 

Have you ever heard of “broken English?” Did you know “broken English” is an actual language? North Carolina Judge Jesse Caldwell tells the story of Vietnamese woman who was waiting her turn to be examined in a crowded hospital emergency room. She gradually became aware of a frustrating “non-conversation” being attempted a few seats down. A nurse was trying to ask a new patient for some details on her illness. The patient spoke Spanish. The nurse did not.

The Vietnamese woman listened for a minute then realized that while she didn’t speak Spanish she did understand the broken-English bits and phrases the Spanish speaking patient offered as answers. Because of her own experience of learning to communicate in “broken English,” the Vietnamese woman could hear the heart and gist of what this other woman was trying to say. The Vietnamese woman offered to “translate” the broken English of the Spanish speaker into something the nurse could understand. She was so successful at bridging the brokenness of their languages that eventually the Vietnamese woman was hired by the hospital as a kind of generic translator. Brokenness was the common language spoken by all hospital patients. 

The Holy Spirit speaks through broken people to a broken world, using language every broken heart can hear and understand. 

Because we know what it is like to be broken by hatred, we can speak of the healing love of Christ’s sacrifice. 

Because we know what it is like to be broken by despair, we can speak of the healing hope of Christ’s forgiveness. 

Because we know what it is like to be broken by doubt, we can speak of the healing faith in Christ’s promises. 

Because we know what it is like to be broken by illness, we can speak of the healing wholeness of Christ’s resurrection.

Because we know what it is like to break down doing church — program church, purpose-driven church, seeker-sensitive church, organic church, missional church, NCD church, simple church, we can stop doing church and start doing Pentecost. 

The church of Jesus Christ is alive and well. In fact, Christianity is still the fastest growing religion in the world. But it’s growing not in the North and West, but in the South and East. Why the difference? Why is Christianity surging in the South and East and not in North America and Europe?

Because where the body of Christ is growing the people aren’t trying to do church. They’re doing Pentecost. Maybe it’s time for us as a church to stop relying on our own powers and programs, our blueprints and boilerplates, and start doing what these early disciples did: trust the Spirit and do Pentecost…   

4.     You Are in the Spirit 

It’s like the story of the shark and the whale. Both were swimming in the sea when the shark swam up to the whale to engage in conversation. As they swam along, the shark said to the whale, “You are so much older than I, and wiser too. Could you tell me where the ocean is?” The whale responded, “The ocean is what you are in now.” The shark would not believe it. “Come on, tell me where the ocean is so I may find it!” The whale repeated, “The ocean is here, now; you are in it.” Unbelieving, the shark swam away searching for the ocean.  

The moral of the story, I believe, is this: don’t spend too much time looking for God because the Spirit of God is here in the now of your life, dwelling within you, within me, within this community. And that truth is nurtured in prayer.

Susan M. Fleenor, The Indwelling Spirit of Pentecost

 5.     Peace 

The peace Jesus gives to us through the Holy Spirit is more than we can ever imagine:

Peace means the cessation of all warfare, but it also means much more.
Peace means a feeling of inner well-being, but it also means much more.
Peace means an end to psychological tensions, but it also means much more.
Peace means halting interpersonal conflicts, but it also means much more.
Peace means the settling of silence on the soul, but it also means much more.

In Valyermo, California , the Benedictines converted a 400-acre ranch into a religious community called St. Andrew's Priory. As you enter the grounds, you find that the land is posted: "No Hunting Except for Peace." 

The world is hunting for peace. What will we give it? 

Leonard Sweet, Collected Sermons

6.     The Church on Fire 

Two persons were talking together before a large church which was being destroyed by fire. The first man spoke in a voice which could be heard above the voice of the firemen: "This is the first time I ever saw you at church." To this the second responded: "This is the first time I ever saw the church on fire." There are many prophets of doom saying that the age of the Christian Church is over - that it has lost its zeal! We're taking a beating right now in this country and around the world. Our theology is being questioned. Everyone is writing a critical book against the organized church. We have had to take some unpopular stands on social issues. Magazines are attacking the ministry, and it isn't the thing to do anymore to join the church. John Kelman said, however, "God pity the nation or city whose factory smokestacks rise higher than her church spires." 

Why Belong To The Church?, anthology, CSS Publishing Company, Inc.

7.     Shaped by the Winds of God 

Most times, when I'm called to conduct a funeral of a loved one from the church, I'm asked by the funeral director if I'd like to ride with them rather than to drive my own car. And most times, I take them up on the offer, for it is more relaxing not to have to worry about driving. I must say that I've had some interesting and informative drives out to the cemetery. One director told me about the effect God's Wind has on things that grow. It seems that over time, trees that have to stand out in the open become shaped in the direction the wind is blowing. Unless there are other trees around to block it from happening, a tree will eventually be shaped by the force and direction of the wind. Then, as living proof, the funeral director began to point out to me tree after tree that had all been shaped in this way, trees that I confess I had passed by many times, but had never really seen until then. Once this was pointed out to me, I began to see them everywhere. The cemetery was literally filled with them! All shaped by the Winds of God! 

I leave you with this question. Like those trees in the cemetery, do we, as individuals, and as a congregation, show any evidence of being shaped by the Winds of God's Spirit? Is the new beginning Pentecostal experience a fresh, yet continuing presence in our lives?

David R. Cartwright, Sermons for Sundays after Pentecost (First Third): Guided by the Spirit, CSS Publishing Company, Inc.

8.     Waves of Worry 

Several years ago a submarine was being tested and had to remain submerged for many hours. When it returned to the harbor, the captain was asked, "How did the terrible storm last night affect you?" The officer looked at him in surprise and exclaimed, "Storm? We didn't even know there was one!" The sub had been so far beneath the surface that it had reached the area known to sailors as "the cushion of the sea." Although the ocean may be whipped into huge waves by high winds, the waters below are never stirred. 

This, I believe, is a perfect picture of the peace that comes from Christ's Spirit. The waves of worry, of fear, of heartbreak, cannot touch those resting in Christ. Sheltered by His grace and encouraged by His Spirit, the believer is given the perfect tranquility that only Christ can provide.

Adrian Dieleman, Receive the Holy Spirit

9.     A Dead Balloon

 A "dead balloon" -- has no life. It continues to lie wherever you put it. It doesn't move. It has no power. 

Take a "dead balloon" and do what Jesus did -- blow in it. What happens? It's full of air; but it is still dead, going nowhere until that power is released. [As an illustration, the "powered balloon" can be released.] 

Under the "spirit's/breath's/wind's" power, the balloon can move. It goes out. However, when the wind power within the balloon is released, you don't know where the balloon is going to go; but you know it's going somewhere. (We don't know where the wind comes from or is going.)

Jesus did not give the disciples the Spirit's power so that they could stay behind locked doors in fear. It is given as a power to move people out into the world -- even if we don't always know exactly where we will end up. 

What happens to the balloon after it has "spent" its power? It seems dead again. All out of power. It's flat. There's no more "spirit/breath" within it. On one hand we are not like that balloon. Jesus promises that the Spirit will be with us forever. We will never run out of the Spirit's power. The Spirit given to you in baptism remains forever. On the other hand, over and over again in Acts, we read that certain disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit. Their filling didn't just happen once, but over and over again. So we also need to be refilled. Weekly we return to church as a refilling station. To receive Jesus again in the hearing of the word and in the sharing of sacrament and through the fellowship of the saints.

Brian Stofregen, From his Exegetical Notes. 

10.  Passing the Peace 

There is a true story related about a church in the Pacific Northwest, who much like us, has a time during the service for passing the peace of Christ. This is a time when they greet one another, and their guests, with handshakes and hugs, and kind words of welcome. Nobody thought much about the weekly ritual until the pastor received a letter from a man who had recently joined the congregation. The new member was a promising young lawyer from a prestigious downtown law firm. He drafted a brief but pointed letter on his firm's letterhead. "I am writing to complain about the congregational ritual known as 'passing the peace,' " he wrote. "I disagree with it, both personally and professionally, and I am prepared to take legal action to cause this practice to cease." When the pastor phoned to talk with the lawyer about the letter, he asked why he was so disturbed about sharing the peace of Christ. The lawyer said, "The passing of the peace is an invasion of my privacy." 

And, in the Pastor’s response to this man, we find the truth of the Christian life. He said, "Like it or not, when you joined the church you gave up some of your privacy, for we believe in a risen Lord who will never leave us alone." And, he said, "You never know when Jesus Christ will intrude on us with a word of peace." 

Jeremy Rebman, So Send I You

11.   Settling for Less

Charles Schultz, the artist who provides us with the Peanuts cartoons, is one of my favorite theologians. In one of his cartoon series,  

he has Snoopy, that hound of heaven, saying of Woodstock, that would-be bird of paradise; "Someday, Woodstock is going to be a great eagle." Then in the next frame he says, "He is going to soar thousands of feet above the ground." Woodstock takes off into the air and as Snoopy looks on he sees the bird upside down whirling around crazily. So he has second thoughts. In the third frame Snoopy says, "Well, maybe hundreds of feet above the ground" But hardly had the words gotten out of his mouth when Woodstock plummets to the ground and lies there, on his back looking dazed, and Snoopy has to conclude, "Maybe he will be one of those eagles who just walks around."


12.  Erasmus 

Erasmus, the famous Renaissance scholar, once told a classic story which was designed to emphasize how important it is that we take up the torch of Christ’s ministry with great commitment. In the story, Jesus returns to heaven after His time on earth. The angels gather around Him to learn what all happened during His days on earth. Jesus tells them of the miracles, His teachings, His death on the cross, and His resurrection.
When He finishes his story, Michael the Archangel asks Jesus, “But what happens now?” Jesus answers, “I have left behind eleven faithful disciples and a handful of men and women who have faithfully followed me. They will declare My message and express My love. These faithful people will build My church.”

“But,” responds Michael, “What if these people fail? What then is Your other plan?” And Jesus answers, “I have no other plan!”

Today is the day we celebrate the birth of the church on Pentecost and we learn again how we are the plan and how Jesus is counting on each of us. But the good news is, we have not been left alone. The Holy Spirit is here to melt us, mold us, fill us, and use us. 

Lost and Found

Picture a little girl lost in a big city. There she sits, crying on the curb. A policeman finds her, puts her in his cruiser and drives her up and down the streets, hoping she'll recognize something familiar. Which, at last, she does. She sees a steeple with a cross on it. Tears vanish.
Speech returns. "That's my church," she says. "I can find my way from here."

You're not the only one, little girl.

William A. Ritter, Collected Sermons

14.  Control 

A wealthy family from Massachusetts used to take a month's vacation every summer to the coast of Maine, taking their maid with them. The maid had an annual ritual at the beach. She wore an old-fashioned bathing suit, complete with a little white hat, and carried enough paraphernalia to stock Wal-Mart. She would settle herself on the beach, cover every inch of her exposed flesh and journey down to the water's edge. There she would hesitate while taking deep breaths and working up her courage to enter the icy-cold water. Finally, she would daintily extend one foot and lower it slowly into the water until she barely had her big toe submerged. Then she repeated the act with the other foot. Then, having satisfied her minimal urge for a swim, she would retreat to her chair and umbrella and spend the remainder of the vacation curled around a book.

I'm afraid that may be a parable of our Christian commitment. Are we afraid to give in to the Pentecost experience, fearful that we might lose control? That's what it is really all about, isn't it? Control. We want to be in control. Well, if Pentecost is to do nothing else, it should remind us that we are not in control, not even - or perhaps I should say especially - of ourselves.

Randy L. Hyde, Time to Deliver

15.  They All Come Together

John Ortberg tells the story of a friend who made his first trip south of the Mason-Dixon Line from Chicago to Georgia. On his first morning in the South he went into a restaurant to order breakfast, and it seemed that every dish included something called grits...which, as my Tennessee friends tell me, is exactly the way God intended it. Not being familiar with this southern delicacy, he asked the waitress, "Could you tell me, exactly what is a grit?" Looking down on him with a mixture of compassion and condescension, she said, "Sugar, you can't get just one grit. They always come together."

John Wesley knew there was no personal holiness without social holiness, and Pulitzer Prize winner Annie Dillard says, "You can no more go to God alone than you can go to the North Pole alone." We're just like can't get just one. They come together.

John E. Harnish, Collected Sermons,

16.  Humor: How Were You Attired? 

Recently, a judicial friend was presiding over a case in a small, rural county. The defendant was charged with drunk driving and trying to assault the police officer who arrested him. To convict the defendant on the assault on an officer charge, the District Attorney had to proved that the defendant knew the person he was assaulting was a police officer. And the easiest way to do that is to show that the officer was wearing a police uniform, and therefore the defendant knew that this was a police officer.

So the District Attorney asked the officer on the witness stand "And how were you attired when you pulled the defendant over?"

The witness looked at him blankly. It was clear he didn't know what the District Attorney meant by "attired". Everyone saw this but the District Attorney.

"Would you repeat the question, please?"

In a slightly irritated voice the District Attorney said, "And how were you attired when you pulled the defendant over?"

The witness still was puzzled. "Say that again", he pleaded.

"How were you attired when you pulled the defendant over?" barked the District Attorney.

My friend said you could suddenly see the light bulb come on in the officer's head, and he proudly proclaimed "I was traveling on standard issue radial tires!"

This officer needed an interpreter even within the English language!

That's what I'm getting at: We all need our own personal interpreter, full time, 24/7. So much of what we hear, even within the English language, we don't understand. And nowhere is that truth more evident than with people who are new to the church.

Leonard Sweet, Collected Sermons
17. Napoleon and the Cardinal

The story is told of Napoleon Bonaparte boasting to a Vatican cardinal that he would destroy the Church. Replied the official insouciantly to the perplexed emperor, "Good luck, Your Majesty. We priests have been attempting to do just that for centuries."

In effect, the bishop was doffing his scarlet biretta in salute to the Holy Spirit. That Spirit dwells comfortably and sometimes, I suspect, very uncomfortably within the Church. Try what anyone might, the Church will not go away precisely because the Third Person of the Holy Trinity is on the job around the clock. Napoleon thought the prelate was pulling his imperial leg. He took on the Church. He was rudely dethroned. The Church  survived. The former emperor wound up beating off mosquitoes as a full-time occupation on the damp island of Saint Helena somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean.
The Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit:
a) The gift of wisdom:  Four-year-old Amanda was taken to the doctor’s office with a fever.  The doctor looked in her ears and asked, "Who’s in there?  Donald Duck?" She said, "No."  He looked in her open mouth, "Whos in there?  Mickey Mouse?" Again she said, "No."  He put his stethoscope on her heart and asked, "Who’s in there? Barney?" Amanda replied, "No, Jesus is in my heart.  Barney is in the pocket of my underwear."
b)The gift of understanding: A kindergarten teacher was observing her classroom of children while they drew pictures.  She would occasionally walk around to see each child's artwork.  As she came to one little girl who was working diligently, she asked what the drawing was. The girl replied, "I'm drawing God." The teacher paused and said, "But no one knows what God looks like." Without missing a beat or looking up from her drawing, the girl replied, "They will in a minute."

c) The gift of counsel: Just after receiving his driver’s license, a Lutheran minister’s son wanted to talk about using the family car.  “Ill make a deal with you,” his father said.  “Bring your grades up, read your Bible more often, and get a haircut.  Then you may use the car once or twice a week. A month later the question came up again.  Son,” the father said, “Im proud of you.   I see you studying hard and reading your Bible every day.  But you didn’t get a haircut.”  After a moment’s pause, the son replied, “Yeah, I’ve thought about that.  But Samson had long hair, Moses had long hair, and even Jesus had long hair.”  True,’ the father replied, but maybe you noticed that they walked wherever they went?”

d) The gift of fortitude:  A mother refused to permit her little boy to go for a picnic with his classmates.  On the day of the picnic, however, she changed her mind and gave  him  permission.   But  he  sighed  and confessed, "It's  too  late  Mummy, I've already prayed for rain on the school picnic day!" 

e) The gift of knowledge:  The story is told of a man who went to the priest and said, "Father, I want you to say a Mass for my dog." The priest was indignant.  "What do you mean, say a Mass for your dog?" "It's my pet dog," said the man.  "I loved that dog and I'd like you to offer a Mass for him." "We don't offer Masses for dogs here," the priest said.  "You might try the denomination down the street.  Ask them if they have a service for you." As the man was leaving, he said to the priest, "I really loved that dog.  I was planning to give a five thousand-dollar stipend for the Mass." And the priest said, "Wait a minute!  Why didn’t tell me that your dog was Catholic?!"
f) The gift of piety: The Rabbi, the Cantor and one member of the congregation were the only ones present for the service.  The Rabbi intoned, "Adonai, before you I am as nothing."  The Cantor intoned, "Adonai, before you I am less than nothing."  The member of the congregation intoned, "Adonai, I too am nothing and less than nothing."  The Cantor looked at the rabbi, and gestured toward the member of the congregation. "Look who thinks he's nothing!"
g) The gift of fear of God: Do not ride in automobiles: they are responsible for 20% of fatal accidents. Do not stay home: 1% of all accidents occur in home.  Do not walk on the streets or sidewalks: 14% of all accidents occur at such times.  Do not travel by air, rail, or water: 16% of all accidents happen on planes, trains or boats.  Only .001% of all deaths occur in worship services in church, and these are usually related to previous physical disorders.  He