918) The Three Billy Goats Gruff

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  Once upon a time there were three billy goats, and the name of all three was Gruff.  One day the three Billy goats Gruff set off to the hills where the sweet grass grew.
  On the way was a bridge over a stream, and under this bridge there lived a troll.  His eyes were round as saucers, and his nose was long as a poker.
  First of all came the youngest Billy goat Gruff to cross the bridge.
  “Trip trap!  Trip trap!” went the bridge.
  “Who’s that tripping over my bridge?” roared the Troll.
  “Oh, it’s only me, the littlest Billy goat Gruff and I’m going off to the hills to make myself fat,” said the littlest Billy goat Gruff, in a tiny voice.
  “Now I’m coming to gobble you up!” said the Troll.
  “Oh no, please don’t take me.  I’m far too little,” said the billy goat.  “Wait until the second billy goat comes; he’s much bigger.”
  “Very well; be off with you,” said the Troll.
  “TRIP TRAP! TRIP TRAP!” went the bridge.
  “Who’s that tripping over my bridge?” roared the Troll.
  “Oh, it’s only the second Billy goat Gruff, and I’m going off to the hills to make myself fat,” said the second Billy goat Gruff, in a little bit louder voice.
  “Now I’m coming to gobble you up!” said the Troll.
  “Oh no, please don’t do that.  Wait until the next billy goat comes; he’s much bigger.”
  “Very well, be off with you,” said the Troll.
  Just then along came the big Billy goat Gruff.
  “TRIP TRAP! TRIP TRAP!” went the bridge, for the big billy goat was so heavy that the bridge groaned and creaked beneath him.
  “Who’s that tripping over my bridge?” roared the Troll.
  “IT’S ME! THE BIG BILLY GOAT GRUFF!” said the billy goat, who had a great hoarse voice of his own.
  “Now I’m coming to gobble you up!” roared the Troll.
  “Well come along, I’m ready for you!” said the big Billy goat Gruff.  Up climbed the Troll, and the big Billy goat Gruff put down his horns, and tossed the Troll off the bridge into the stream.  Then the big Billy goat Gruff crossed the bridge, and all three goats went up to the hills.

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A story by Lutheran pastor Axel C. Kildegaard from a sermon on his 80th birthday, June 8, 1997:

     Thirty five years ago, Frylla and I and our four children spent fifteen months in Europe, which included a summer holiday in Bavaria.  One day we were hiking on a grassy mountainside in a remote area.  We came across an abandoned trail.  It was very old, but clearly had once been a road.  

     I noticed up ahead what appeared to be an old stone bridge.  I whispered to Frylla to distract Arne, and then I hurried ahead to scramble down the ditch, underneath the bridge.  

     Oblivious to this, Arne, who was three years old, walked out onto the bridge.  Underneath, with a deep threatening voice, I called out: “Who’s that walking on my bridge?”  Arne stopped.  Amazed, he turned around twice.  “Just me, Arne,” he said, “That’s who it is, just me.”

     “Well, this is my bridge, and I am going to eat you!”  I roared.

     “Oh, no, you shouldn’t do that,” Arne replied.  “Wait for my sister Lise, she’s bigger and plumper than me,” and he hurried on to safety.

     Then came Lise, and Siri, and Nils.  They had caught on to the game and we played it to the hilt.  “Oh no, wait for Siri, she’s bigger and plumper than I am.”  “Oh no, wait for Nils, he’s bigger and plumper than I am.”  And Nils, the oldest at nine, had to say, “Well, come up and eat me then.”

     I then crawled out and showed myself.  Arne, amazed once more, said, “Dad, it was you down there all the time!”

     “Well, who did you think it was?” I asked.

     Arne said, “The monster who wanted to eat Billy Goat Gruff.”  That seemed obvious to him.

     So we asked Arne, “Weren’t you frightened when you thought there was a monster under the bridge?’

     “Oh no,” he laughed.  “I know the end of that story.”

     We cannot know what dangers and troubles are ahead for us on our journey through life, but like little Arne, we know how our story will end, and so we can be confident and hopeful.

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HOW OUR STORY ENDS:

Isaiah 51:6  —  Lift up your eyes to the heavens, look at the earth beneath; the heavens will vanish like smoke, the earth will wear out like a garment and its inhabitants die like flies.  But my salvation will last forever, my righteousness will never fail.

John 11:25  —  Jesus said…, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live.”

I Thessalonians 4:13-18  —  Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope.  For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.  According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep.  For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.  After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.  And so we will be with the Lord forever.  Therefore encourage one another with these words.

Revelation 21:1a…3-5  —  Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away...  And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look!  God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them.  They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.  He will wipe every tear from their eyes.  There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”  He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!”  Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

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The last words of the Bible (or, the end of the story) contain a promise, a prayer, and a benediction:

  He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.”  Amen.  Come, Lord Jesus.   The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people.  Amen.

–Revelation 22:20-21

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