Saturday, 21 July 2012

Telling the Tale

There are many elements to ministry, most of which I love. One of the greatest joys is creating worship. The Unitarian and Free Christian tradition in which I have found a home not only allows but encourages a broad scope. I truly am given the freedom of the pulpit and can explore any theme or subject I wish...I'm actually given far more freedom than I often take.

Something I have always loved is the sharing of stories from the worlds many traditions. I don't suppose I will ever exhaust all them in the years to come. In the two years that I served the good folk of Altrincham and Urmston we have had a lot of fun and some seriousness with the tales we have shared...below is a collection of some of them...

I will offer no explanation for each individual tale as I would like them to stand for themselves and for who ever reads them to make their own sense of them...hope they open you up as they have opened me up,,,

Standing on One Foot

A man came to talk with Rabbi Shamai, one of the most famous of all the rabbis, nearly as famous as Rabbi Hillel.
"I would like to convert to Judaism and become a Jew," said the man. "But I don't have much time. I know I have to learn the entire book you call the Torah, but you must teach it to me while I stand on one foot."

The Torah is the most important Jewish book there is, and this crazy man wanted to learn it while standing on one foot? Why, people spent years learning the Torah; it was not something you can learn in five minutes! Rabbi Shamai grew angry with this man, and he pushed the man away using a builder's yardstick he happened to be holding in his hand.
The man hurried away, and found Rabbi Hillel. "I would like to convert to Judaism and become a Jew," said the man. "But I don't have much time. I know I have to learn the entire book you call the Torah, but you must teach it to me while I stand on one foot."

"Certainly," said Rabbi Hillel. "Stand on one foot."
The man balanced on one foot.
"Repeat after me," said Rabbi Hillel. "What is hateful to you, don't do that to someone else."
The man repeated after Rabbi Hillel, "What is hateful to me, I won't do that to someone else."
"That is the whole law," said Rabbi Hillel. "All the rest of the Torah, all the rest of the oral teaching, is there to help explain this simple law. Now, go and learn it so it is a part of you."

Life Is Echo

A man and his son were walking in the forest.
Suddenly the boy trips and feeling a sharp pain he screams, “Ahhhhh.”
Surprised, he hears a voice coming from the mountain, “Ahhhhh!”
Filled with curiosity, he screams:
“Who are you?”,
but the only answer he receives is:
“Who are you?”
This makes him angry, so he screams:
“You are a coward!”,
and the voice answers:
“You are a coward!”
He looks at his father, asking,
“Dad, what is going on?”
“Son,” the man replies, “pay attention!”
Then he screams, “I admire you!”
The voice answers: “I admire you!”
The father shouts, “You are wonderful!”,
and the voice answers:
“You are wonderful!”
The boy is surprised, but still can’t understand what is going on.
Then the father explains,
“People call this ‘ECHO’,
but truly it is ‘LIFE!’ Life always gives you back what you give out!
Life is a mirror of your actions.
If you want more love, give more love!
If you want more kindness, give more kindness!
If you want understanding and respect, give understanding and respect!
If you want people to be patient and respectful to you, give patience and respect!
This rule of nature applies to every aspect of our lives.”
Life always gives you back what you give out.
Your life is not a coincidence, but a mirror of your own doings.

Six Blind Men and the Elephant

 “The Perfect Woman”

Nasrudin met an old friend whom he had not seen for twenty years. They sat down together in the cafe and talked over old times. “did you ever get married Nasruddin?” asked the friend.

“No I’m afraid I didn’t.”

“Why not? I’ve been married many years and I’ve never regretted it.”

“Well”, said Nasruddin, “I was always looking for the perfect woman. I wanted my wife to be beautiful, intelligent, and sensible.”

“And you never found her?”

“I thought I had, when I was twenty. Her name was Ablah.

She was beautiful, just the kind of woman I like, but I’m afraid she wasn’t very intelligent, and her language was atrocious! I was embarrassed to be with her! She certainly wasn’t the perfect woman.”

“Was she your only girlfriend?”

“No. When I was twenty-five I met a woman called Bahira. She was good looking and intelligent, but she wasn’t very sensible. She spent all my money on frivolous things, and she couldn’t even boil an egg! She wasn’t the perfect woman either.”

“Where there any more?”

“Only one. At thirty I met Haddiyah and she was truly a gift from God! She was the most beautiful woman I’d ever seen, and the most intelligent. What’s more she was prudent and sensible, a good cook, and a brilliant conversationalist.”

“She sounds like the perfect woman you were looking for.”

“Then why didn’t you marry her?”

“Unfortunately, she was looking for the perfect man!”

Two Wolves

“What Price a Kingdom”

Haroun Al-Rashid was a very powerful king. In fact he was the most powerful king in the whole world, and his influence stretched over many hundreds of miles. One day he was talking about his power and his wealth to a wise man called Aman.

“I have so much power that I can make any man do what I command; I have so much wealth that I can buy anything I like. I live in the most beautiful of palaces; I eat my food from golden plates, and I wear clothes spun from the finest silk. There is no man in the whole world who can compare with me,” he boasted.
Aman listened carefully, and then he asked the king a question. “If you were dying of thirst in the middle of a desert, what would you give for a cup of water?”

Without hesitation the king answered, “I’d give half of my kingdom!”

“And if you drank the water so fast that your stomach was in danger of bursting, what would you give for the pills which would cure your condition and keep you alive?”

“I would give the other half of my kingdom!” declared the king.

“Why then, O great king, do you boast about you fantastic wealth and your great power if you would trade then both for a cup of water and a few pills?” asked Aman.

Are you an eagle living the life of a chicken?

The Miller, His Son, and Their Donkey 
Next Story
"I shall have to sell that donkey of ours," said a miller to his son. "I can not afford to keep him through the winter. I will take him to town this very morning to see if I can find a buyer. You may go with me." In a little while the miller, his son, and the donkey were on their way to town.

They had not gone far when they met some girls going to a party. They were talking and laughing as they went along. One of them said, "Look at that man and boy driving a donkey. One of them surely might ride it."
The miller heard what they said, and quickly made his son mount the donkey, while he walked along at its side.
After a while they came to a group of old men who were talking very earnestly. "There," said one, "I was just saying that boys and girls have no respect for the aged. You see it is true in this case. See that boy riding while his old father has to walk."

"Get down, my son," said his father, "and I will ride." So they went on.

They next met some women coming from town. "Why!" they cried, "your poor little boy is nearly tired out. How can you ride and make him walk?" So the miller made his son ride on the donkey behind him.

They were now in town. A man coming down the street called to the miller, "Why do you make your donkey carry such a load? You can carry him better than he can carry you."
At this the miller and his son got off the donkey. They tied the donkey's legs together, turned him over on his back; and began to carry him.

A crowd soon gathered to see the strange sight. As they were crossing a bridge the donkey became frightened at the hooting of the crowd. He broke loose, fell into the river, and was drowned.
The miller was angry and ashamed. He said, "There! I have tried to please everybody and have only made a fool of myself. After this I shall do as I think best and let people say what they will."

The difference between Heaven and Hell

What are the Neighbours like?

One Sunday afternoon an old man was leaning on his garden gate, smoking his pipe, and meditating on life, when a stranger approached him. “Excuse me, sir,” said the stranger. “I’m thinking of moving to this town, and I was wondering what people are like around here?”

The old man took the pipe from his mouth and said, “What are the people like where you live now?”
“Oh I don’t like them. They are noisy, selfish, mean, and unfriendly. I’ve lived there five years and I’ve not found a single person that I like. I’ll be glad to get away from them.”

“Well said the old man, “I expect you’ll find the people around here are like that too – selfish, mean, and unfriendly. I don’t think you’ll like it here.”

The stranger walked on. A little while later, another stranger approached the old man. “Excuse me sir,” he said, I’m thinking of moving to this town, and I was wondering what the people are like round here?”
“What are the people like where you live now?”

“Oh they are fine people. I’ve grown to love them all. They are friendly, sociable, helpful. I’ll be sorry to leave, but I’ve just been promoted and so I’ve got to move house.”

“Well,” said the old man, “I expect you’ll find that the people around here are like that too – friendly, sociable, and helpful. I think you’ll enjoy living here.”

“The Seven Wonders of the World”

“Let’s make a list of the Wonders of the World,” suggested a teacher to her students one day. “We can include both man-made structures and natural phenomena,” she added.
After much discussion and some disagreement, the class came up with the following list, which the teacher wrote on the blackboard:

The Pyramids of Egypt
The Grand Canyon in Arizona
St Peter’s Basilica in Rome
The Niagara Falls
The Taj Mahal in India
The Empire State Building in New York
The Northern Lights

The teacher continued “One day you may be lucky enough to see each of these seven wonders.”
Wouldn’t you like to see all these magnificent things?” she asked the one girl who had so far taken no part in the discussion.

“Yes I would,” replied the girl. “But I have a list of my own, and it’s very different from the one on the blackboard.”

“Would you like to share it with us?” asked the teacher.

“This is my list of the wonders of the world,” she began. Then she went on:
“To see...
to hear...
to touch...
to taste...
to smell...
to laugh...and...
to love.”

The class went quiet, as the teacher and the students realised that they didn’t have to go very far to find wonder in the world.”

Learning to Write in the Sand

A story is told of two friends who were walking through the desert. During some point of the journey, they had an argument, and one friend slapped the other one in the face.
The one who got slapped was hurt, but without saying anything, he wrote in the sand: “Today my best friend slapped me in the face.”
They kept on walking, until they found an oasis, where they decided to take a bath. The one who had been slapped got stuck in the mire and started drowning, but his friend saved him.
After he recovered from the near drowning, he carved on a stone: “Today my best friend saved my life.”
The friend, who had slapped and saved his best friend, asked him, “After I hurt you, you wrote in the sand, and now, you carve on a stone, why?”
The other friend replied: “When someone hurts us, we should write it down in sand, where the winds of forgiveness can erase it away, but when someone does something good for us, we must engrave it in stone, where no wind can ever erase it.”
Learn to write your hurts in the sand and to carve your blessings in stone!
The overflowing tea cup

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