Friday, October 2, 2009

A Parable of Grace

by Virginia Knowles

Once upon a time, a wise and gracious king, longing to mingle freely with the subjects in his dominion, decided to host a huge feast on the castle grounds. So he dispatched his messengers far and wide with an invitation for everyone, from nobleman to common peasant, to come and dine with him. Not wanting anyone to be left out, he made it clear that no one needed to dress up or bring any gifts or food. Everything would be provided through the generosity of the king.

His Royal Majesty was so full of anticipation for this glorious event that he commenced immediately with the preparations. He hired the best gardeners to cover the castle grounds with beds of beautiful blooms and to trim the verdant hedges into fanciful shapes. The finest tailors were called to sew exquisite party clothes for all of the guests. The most talented musicians tuned up their prized instruments to rehearse for a grand symphony concert. Jugglers and jesters, minstrels and mimes practiced their own merry entertainments. Of course, master chefs concocted the most luscious recipes, from roast herbed mutton to succulent spicy honey cakes, to nourish both the senses and the stomachs of all would come. The very air was electric with excitement.

On hearing of this magnanimous invitation, all the citizens of the kingdom set out for the castle in droves, chattering and singing along the way, eager to meet their mighty king face to face. However, as many of them approached the castle walls from the far side, circling round in search of the open gate, they were surprised to discover a tall and sprawling tent with boldly colored banners flapping in the breeze. Near this impressive structure, a short stocky man, dressed in the garments of nobility, shouted forth from his megaphone: “Hark! Tarry here to prepare for entering the feasting grounds! All citizens must pay for their tickets. Then you must either pass an inspection of your clothing or purchase new royal robes from the official feast store. You may also purchase your gifts and food contributions there. After this, you may take your test to make sure that you are talented and intelligent enough to sit at the king’s table. Lest I forget, there will be a health inspection, too. We must not allow any germs to enter the castle gates! Finally, you must present your pedigree, so we may be sure that none are descended from horse thieves.”

The startled citizens gasped in dismay. They thought they had been assured that all were welcome, that the feast was free, and that no one needed to bring anything! They had nothing to offer! What they didn’t realize was that this man, a traitor to the king, was trying to spoil the pleasure of the party for everyone. His strategy was to keep as many citizens as possible away from the feast entirely. In response to their earnest protests, he slyly promised them that they could stay at the tent and work for him until they could earn enough to pay the fees. For an extra price, he would tutor them in courtly courtesies and all manner of sophisticated conversation. Some of the peasants sighed and entered the tent, not realizing that his exorbitant demands were impossible to meet no matter how long they labored for the treacherous nobleman. Others, despairing completely ever meeting the king, trudged slowly back to their huts.

However, still others, trusting the word of the king’s own faithful messengers, continued on their way toward the open gate and the wonderful feast. Garbed in regal robes, they dined sumptuously from the banquet tables and filled their souls with all of the beauty and delights that the king had prepared for them. Best of all, each had an audience with the king himself, who delighted to speak with his subjects, young and old. Then, urged by the king, they went forth from the castle gates, around to the tent, to urge their fellow citizens to ignore the wily nobleman and come freely to the marvelous festival of the king. Then they visited each village, seeking out the hopeless ones who had turned back, bidding them to come again, full of confidence in the king’s promises. Many, still captive to trickery, refused to believe and laughed at their fellow countrymen. But the king rejoiced that myriad precious ones at last ventured forth to meet him and savor all he had prepared for their enjoyment.

This wee parable of grace is but a shadow of a larger and truer saga, one with a Great Rebellion and a Glorious Redemption, written in a Holy Book. And that timeless tale, weaving its way right up to “Once Upon a Here and Now” beckons us to freely enter in to the Throne Room of the King of Kings. Come! The gate is open! He awaits your arrival!


  1. Boy, howdy! You sure hit this one on the head. Love to read a good grace message :-)


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