The Party of the Blessed
God took a walk on earth and decided to hold a party for the blessed. From his beautiful tent, invitations were sent out by his PA.
The PA hadn’t liked to ask God who exactly the blessed are – he felt it was something he should know. So amongst those included were the prime minister and several MPs, a number of religious leaders, members of the royal family, a well-known charity benefactor, a business magnate, a university professor and a television presenter.
In a sense, the PA was right. These people did indeed feel blessed – blessed by their own hard work or ability, blessed by good fortune or a devout nature or public acclaim. In fact, they were so busy enjoying their feeling of blessedness, or working to maintain it, that they hadn’t time to attend God’s party. One by one the replies came in, declining the invitation.
The PA didn’t know what to do next. So he decided he’d turn to the prayer records and look for anyone who had recently asked for blessing. Leafing through the supplications, he noticed that some were quite distraught – for instance:
“Oh God, I’ve been so greedy. What on earth can I do?” (That one, perhaps unsurprisingly, was from Mr Greedy.)
And “Lord, I know you have a lot to attend to but this is VERY important so please let me head the queue.” (That was from Mr Selfish.)
With a troubled frown and some misgivings, the PA compiled the following list:
Mr Selfish, Miss Sceptical, Bill the bully, Jim the intellectual gymnast, Mrs Busybody, Mr Flibbertigibbet and Mr Greedy.
There was no time to run the arrangements by God. The party was due to start in a few hours. The tables were laden with delicious refreshments, musicians struck up, the guests arrived and were seated, and then God made his appearance.
Looking beautiful and full of light, God stood at the head of the table, called his PA to him and asked that the guests be introduced, one by one. As the PA walked round the table, his misgivings grew stronger:
Mr Selfish was busy elbowing his neighbour out of the way.
Bill the bully was scowling and flexing his muscles.
Miss Sceptical was whispering, “I suppose he’s hoping to get something out of us”.
Jim the intellectual gymnast had jumped up, notebook in hand, crying, “I’ve a few questions to ask”.
Mr Flibbertigibbet wasn’t even seated – he was examining the cutlery, the crockery, the light fittings, the serviettes and the drapes.
Mrs Busybody was asking where the cakes had come from, how much they had cost, whether God would like her recipe for cake, whether there was a Mrs God, and if so where she did her shopping.
And Mr Greedy was a painful sight with his mouth stuffed with two kinds of delicacies.
“Do they really not understand who they are with?” wondered the agonised PA.
But God seemed quite unconcerned. He strolled around the table, patting one guest on the back, smiling to this one, joking with another.
As the refreshments disappeared and the music played, and as God, with shining forehead and wise eyes, sat amongst them, the atmosphere gradually changed…
Afterwards no-one knew exactly how long the party had lasted. Was it a short time? Was it hours? In any case, eventually the shadows lengthened and the PA reminded God that he had to get back to heaven.
Then something strange happened, almost as if heaven itself had come right down there to them. As they got ready to line up and say goodbye to their host:
Mr Selfish stood aside and let the others go in front.
Miss Sceptical said goodbye and thank you with tears in her eyes.
Bill the bully helped Mrs Busybody out on her chair
Jim the intellectual gymnast was totally silent but with a wide smile on his face.
Mr Flibbertigibbet was calm.
Mrs Busybody said, “Oh Sir, I think I know all I need to know now.”
And Mr Greedy, after squashing the last iced cake into his bag, changed his mind, took it out, and replaced it on the table.
Now of course I’m not saying that they were changed forever. No – but the memory of that afternoon stayed with them for a long, long time, and perhaps it was from that day forward that they were all less, well, what they had been.
And God said to his PA: “That was good. Let’s do it again next week. Go and find another lot.”
“Oh God!” said the PA as soon as God was out of earshot.