The Celestial Chronicles (10)
Stories imagining Christian service from Heaven’s point of view
At Pressington Grange
The lounge at Pressington Grange was looking its best. Mrs Pressington didn’t just have the money to indulge in exquisite interior décor, she had the good taste too. Or perhaps she paid someone else a lot of money to ensure the rooms in her mansion were always just absolutely right. Chrissie ran her hand over the soft leather arm of her chair and sighed. Even with the dozen ladies belonging to their church’s Missionary Society present, plus the assortment of goods they were packing into boxes for the needy in … Chrissie forgot the exact name of the place, somewhere quite distant … the room still managed to look regal. Not cramped and untidy the way her terraced house often looked. There was hardly room to swing a cat around her living room (not that she had ever had that particular inclination); certainly there wasn’t room to host the missionary group. Chrissie thought she must be about the same age as Mrs Pressington – a young-ish retiree. She tried not to envy Mrs Pressington her home and the wealth she undoubtedly enjoyed, but she couldn’t help imagining how nice it would be to have this much. If she had even half this much, she could give far more to good causes…
To be fair to Mrs Pressington, she opened her lovely home constantly and generously to the church folk and to others in need. Sometimes she went a little too far in her desire to help those less fortunate than herself: look at … what’s-her-name – the girl helping to serve the coffee? Mrs Pressington was sponsoring her on a catering apprenticeship or some such thing. The girl wasn’t quite as clumsy as she used to be, but the learning-difficulty-thingy she had was still a bit off-putting. Chrissie avoided her; she could never understand a word she said. But then Mrs Pressington could afford to be eccentric in her decisions and help odd people, couldn’t she? People were still likely to come to her lovely home no matter how many waifs and strays she took in.
The variety of cakes and sandwiches laid out for them in the dining room lived up to the usual excellent standards of Pressington Grange. The missionary group’s refreshments were meant to be a shared effort, but Chrissie didn’t bother contributing anything anymore; there didn’t seem much point when Mrs Pressington could easily provide for them all. Chrissie jostled in the queue, craning her neck to see if her favourite cake was there. Yes! And Mrs Pressington noticed her looking and smiled and waved at her, pointing to the cake. Unfortunately, the girl – whatever was her name? – was right by the carrot cake. Chrissie hoped she could escape quickly.
When they had all had their fill of food, Mrs Merryweather, who chaired the group, went through a few other items for prayer or practical need, and then the money offering was taken for a missionary they supported in … well, in one of the African countries. Chrissie forgot which one. Mrs Merryweather explained about the need and Chrissie rustled her hand around in the bag that was passed around to receive their offering. Five pounds would have been ample (the way people gave, it was quite possible the missionary had more money than Chrissie did!), but this time Chrissie didn’t have even that to spare. The final instalment on the long-planned holiday was due and some additional spending money would be nice too. Chrissie didn’t put anything into the bag, but it was good if she seemed to give something; it would be a bad example otherwise. The final gift from the missionary group would be generous anyway – a good reflection on them all. Mrs Pressington could easily give a large amount to help the woman in … whatever African country. Chrissie was firmly of the opinion that people who had a lot should give a lot. That was Mrs Pressington’s role.
It was a strange notion to any Celestial Being in the Courts of Heaven that their Master, the Creator of the Universe, had any need whatever of the paltry pennies of the Redeemed of Earth. The God of Heaven didn’t watch anxiously as the offering bag was passed around, wondering if the offering was enough to meet the need of one of His own. He could provide in an instant what was needed! Yet He delighted to give the Redeemed the opportunity to use anything they had in service for Him. That way, they could exchange the corruptible currency of Earth for the incorruptible wealth of Heaven. And those riches would last forever. It was the only wise investment to make.
Another strange notion to the angels was that the Redeemed actually put faith in, and value on, the currency of Earth! Incredible! On something so transient and fickle, when there was such treasure to be gained! It was baffling, to say the least. And yet, there was poor Chrissie hoarding her savings when she could have gained eternal reward for giving them away.
Poor Chrissie. Natan, an angelic Treasure House worker, shook his head at the lost opportunity and added more sparkling gems to Mrs Pressington’s heavenly account instead. Did Chrissie not realise that her hoarded five pounds would have been rewarded every bit as much as Mrs Pressington’s fifty pounds?
Out of her abundance Mrs Pressington had given much and been rewarded; but in keeping back what little she had, Chrissie had nothing.