The cleaner had finished her work just in time; the venue made clean and lovely for a much-talked about Saturday conference.
Well, hardly a conference – more, a messianic gathering!
As the hall filled, many here were convinced that the messiah would show himself here today at 11.00am.
This had been the word they’d received.
‘I will come in my glory at eleven.’
‘But how will we recognise him?’ one asked promoting much laughter. ‘I think we’ll recognise the messiah!’ came the reply.
He didn’t come at exactly 11.00am, which was a disappointment, though the cleaner did bring in some coffee and biscuits – a poor substitute but consumed nonetheless.
Some wondered about the time and said so: ‘I thought he said 11.00am. It is past 11.00am.’
But they were told ‘eleven’ was probably symbolic, ‘elevenses’, meaning a time of refreshment. ‘He will come when we eat, a messianic meal!’
So they took lunch early; but still no arrival.
Another group thought the number eleven could signify the faithful disciples, excluding Judas, of course – twelve minus one. ‘He will come when the faithful gather – which is us!’
(Some privately wondered whether everyone there was faithful. Was that the problem? How faithful did you have to be?)
But whatever and why-ever, the messiah still didn’t come, despite several sermons, prayers and exhortations offered.
And at 4.00pm, when all day conferences must finish, they left with some irritation and a little confused.
‘Maybe he means he will come not at 11.00am but in the 11th month – November!’ They began to make plans.
Meanwhile, the cleaner got on with clearing up, there was quite a mess, wondering why they hadn’t recognised her.
She had come at 11.00am, just as she said.