Papa Panov

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One of my favourite Christmas stories is Leo Tolstoy's, "Papa Panov". If you know the story, you will recall how it centres on Papa Panov, an elderly shoe maker who dreams that Jesus tells him that he will come and visit him on Christmas Day, so he should keep alert and keep an eye open for him.

Naturally Papa Panov is very excited about this prospect and all through Christmas Day, he keeps looking up and down the street to see if Jesus is coming. As the day passes and Papa Panov keeps his vigil, he doesn't see Jesus — but he does see and help the road sweeper, a beggar and a lady with a tiny baby. Papa Panov offers them food and hospitality, but always with one eye on what's happening outside his shop, for he doesn't want to miss Jesus.

Alone again at the end of the day — he is disappointed that Jesus hadn't come after all — and that his hopes had been dashed. As he dreamt that night there comes a moment of realisation that Jesus had indeed come to him, but not as he expected — for he had come in the guise of the road sweeper, the beggar and the lady with a baby. In welcoming them and inviting those strangers into his home, he was in fact welcoming the Son of God himself.

I'm reminded of those words of the King in Matthew 25:40 (at the end of the parable about the sheep and the goats), where he proclaims "'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me"

In all the excitement of this time of year, in all the celebrations and in all the rejoicing, may we keep our eyes open so that we might see the Christ child amongst us once more.

Not just in the places where we expect to see him, but also in the unexpected places as well. May we see Him In the faces of those we know but also and more importantly, in the faces of strangers who come our way.

As the Carol "Born in the night" reminds us;
Hope of the world,
Mary's child,
You're coming soon to reign;
King of the earth,
Mary's child,
Walk in our streets again

Wishing you all a peaceful Christmas

With love and God Bless,

Keith

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