In case you missed it, over the weekend and the New Year’s holiday, we ran our annual end-of-the-year campaign. It covered the brief span of 4 emails in two days, and since it went by so fast, we decided to revisit it over the remainder of this week, not because we are still fundraising (although we will certainly be happy to receive your gifts into this week should you be so inclined), but because we loved the little story we created around the traditional Cinderella theme, and, though the story was just for fun so as to entertain you along the way, there are always elements of truth to point out, and even learn from, especially in fairy tales, otherwise, we would not relate to them like we do. Certainly Cinderella is arguably the most relatable of all. It encompasses the dream of every girl to be a princess, and every boy to be a prince. But I’m getting a little ahead of myself, so here is the whole story in one place, along with a new commentary, at the end, just added today.
I also want to give a big Thank You to everybody, listed below, who took part in our campaign. As soon as we get the newly remastered digital copies of Inside and Naphtali, up on our website, we will be forwarding you instructions on how to download your free copy as our “Thank You” to you. By the way, we will be extending that free download offer through to the end of the week.
So now to our story …
Cindyrella: A Modern Twist On An Old Classic
Art by Rongrong Devoe
Narrator: Once upon a time there was a beautiful young girl named Cindyrella. She had two, let’s just say, not so very nice stepsisters who were very, very mean to her.
Stepsister 1: Did you charge my iPhone?
Cindyrella: Yes, I did.
Stepsister 2: Did you clean my iPad screen
Cindyrella: Yes, I did.
Stepsister 1: Did you go online and renew my Netflix subscription?
Cindyrella: Yes, I did.
Stepsister 2: Did you clean my room while I binge-watched Christmas movies on the Hallmark Channel?
Cindyrella: Yes, I did.
Stepsister 1&2: Did you make your end-of-the-year contribution to The Catch Ministry?
Cindyrella: Yes, I did.
What to do with two mean stepsisters
Narrator: The step-sisters made Cindyrella do everything for them.
Cindyrella: (calling out) Stepsisters! While I was charging your iPhones, you both received a Text from the Prince’s royal New Year’s Eve Party.
Stepsister 1: (fighting) WHAT?!!! Give me the phone!! I want to read it!
Stepsister 2: (fighting) No! I want to read it first!
Cindyrella: (mockingly) Ummm, the text was sent to both of your phones. Duh!
Stepsister 1&2: OMG! We are invited to the Prince’s NYE ball that’s being held at the Waldorf Astoria Grand Ballroom!
Stepsister 1: And did you see who was performing at the ball?
Stepsister 1&2: No way!!
Cinderella: (crying sadly) I wish I could go, too.
Narrator: It was New Year’s Eve and the night of the party was here.
Stepsister 1: (laughing) Ha, ha! We are so going to have a great time at the party.
Stepsister 2: (laughing) Have a great night working, Cindyrella.
Narrator: After the not-so-very-nice step sisters had left, suddenly, some lady who look a lot like Marti Fischer appeared in the form of the fairy godmother. Note: It says “godmother” not “grandmother.” Though most renditions have her looking like an old frumpy grandmother, that is certainly not the case with Marti Fischer. Marti may be a grandmother but she sure doesn’t look like one as our Catch audience will vouch for. And why does Cindyrella get a fairy godmother anyway? Probably because she’s such a saccharine sweet, even-tempered, obedient, pious little angel of a passive, personality-deficient worker drone doormat, and only Good Girls™ like her are worthy of divine intervention.
Cindyrella: Where did you come from?
Fairy godmother: It’s not important to know who I am or where I came from. As soon as I find my wand, I am here to help you turn a sad situation in which it looks like you have lost all hope into something wonderful.
Narrator: But the magic can’t start until the fairy godmother finds her lost wand. At which point we question whether someone who misplaces a wand should be allowed to wield one freely. But find it she did, waving her magic wand, and as she did…
Cindyrella: Wait a minute, is that an Aston Martin DBS Superleggera, with a5.2-liter twin-turbocharged V12 engine generating a mighty 715 horsepower and a terrifying top speed of 211 mph?
Fairy godmother: Yes it is! And what else would you expect from a fairy godmother like me? This will get you to the party quickly, my dear, and, even more importantly, home before midnight!
Narrator: And then there’s the part where the mice turn into security guards and the dog into her chauffeur, who looks a lot like the very John Fischer we know! Right before our very eyes.
Fairy godmother:Well, hop in my, dear. We can’t waste time.
Cindyrella: But, uh…
Fairy godmother: Oh … Don’t even try to thank me.
Cindyrella: Oh, I wasn’t… I mean, I am thankful, but … but don’t you think my dress…
Fairy godmother: Yes, it’s lovely, dear, lov…[realizing] Good Heavens, child! You can’t go in that!
Narrator: With a wave of her wand, Cindyrella’s rags immediately turn into a Valentino appliquéd silk-organza gown originally $32,900 but marked down to $11,515 – a 65% savings!
Cindyrella: Are you kidding me?!!!.
Narrator: And on her feet were a pair of high heels with red soles – unmistakably Christian Louboutin selling at Barneys New York for $3,095, but don’t even try, Cinderella’s fairy godmother bought the last pair.
Cindyrella: No, seriously, you’re joking, right?
Narrator: Pointing out her entirely fabulous footwear, she uttered possibly the most charming thing a princess could say.
Cindyrella: “Why, it’s like a dream. A wonderful dream come true.”
Narrator: And we cheer as the fairy godmother sends her off to meet her handsome prince. And the fairy godmother waves goodbye with her wand, which is twice as cool as just with a hand.
Even the skeptics among us can’t watch this scene without resigning to the fact that there’s just something utterly smile-inducing about seeing a little bit of fairy dust make a girl’s dream come true.
Before she departs, the Fairy Godmother gives Cindyrella a word of caution: at the stroke of twelve, the spell will be broken, and everything will return to normal.
Cindyrella: Wait!! By midnight – Or what??!!
Narrator: Grateful for the gifts anyway, Cindyrella thanks her fairy godmother and happily rides off to the ball as fairy godmother bids her farewell.
Narrator: Cindyrella, was now being comfortably whisked off to the New Year’s Eve Party in style, in her “carriage,” the new Aston Martin DBS Superleggera. It should be no surprise to anyone in this audience that John Fischer, Cindyrella’s dog turned chauffeur, who had just uploaded to his iPhone the newly remastered digital version of his album, Inside, couldn’t resist the opportunity to try it out on the incredible sound system inside the Aston Martin. So all the way to the ball, the screaming guitar licks of Phil Keaggy could be heard on the song “I’ve Been Hiding.” And indeed, Cinderella felt she was hiding inside her freshly discovered beauty. No one would recognize her, and no one did.
Stepsister 1: Who is that? She has to be some sort of a celebrity, but where are the lights, cameras and paparazzi? No one seems to know who she is.
Stepsister 2: No kidding. What a mystery.
Stepsister 1: Oh no!!! Wait!! This can’t be!! The prince is going to go dance with her!
Stepsister 2: This is so not fair! He was supposed to dance with me!
Narrator: As the stepsisters began to fight over who the prince should dance with, he walked towards Cindyrella while winking at the band up on the stage as if to alert them to be ready for some pre-planned event.
Prince: Would you like to dance with me?
Cindyrella: Why, yes, your highness. I would be thrilled.
Narrator: The Prince was obviously smitten, but so was Cindyrella.
At once the band began the intro to John Fischer’s “Two Years,” and you’ll never guess who the band was. It was the Catch Ministry Board of Directors! On the bass drum was their name, “The BODS.” Yes, folks, it was Mike Boland on bass, Rob Stutzman on guitar, John Styll on drums, Alex Klein on saxophone and up jumped Cindyrella’s chauffeur to sing, “And I love you more cause you’ve opened up the door to the worst and the best inside me …” It was a magical moment followed by dance after dance after dance and neither the Prince nor Cinderella saw anyone else in the room. And no one in the room saw anyone else but Cindyrella and the Prince. All of this was well-documented on everyone’s Facebook, Instagram and social media feeds.
But suddenly — just like that — the spell was broken by the pealing of the clock. It was midnight!
Prince: What’s wrong?
Cindyrella: I must go!! I have like one bar left on my iPhone battery, and I need to get my end-of-the-year contribution into The Catch Ministry before midnight!
Prince: Looking both saddened and shocked, “You do have a point there! I’m not saying it’s a showstopper between us that you hadn’t made your contribution yet, but still…”
What if Cindyrella misses the deadline? Is this Prince a member of The Catch community, too? On the edge of your seat? Will the Prince ever find Cindyrella? What if Cindyrella misses the deadline? Have you?
Narrator: Cindyrella piled into the Aston Martin with only one shoe, just as her chauffeur jumped into the driver’s seat and started up the 715 horses in its 5.2 liter engine with a heavy growl. Remember her chauffeur was also the singer in the band who was also a Catch Board of Director who was also John Fischer who was also formerly Cindyrella’s dog. The big clock in the tower was still donging, though Cindyrella wasn’t counting the dings. So she called out as she pulled her iPhone out of her purse …
Cindyrella: Hey driver, does this thing have wifi?
Chauffeur: Of course it does.
Narrator: And away they sped, and no sooner had Cindyrella punched in her Catch donation than the clock struck twelve.
Suddenly, the Aston Martin DBS became a pumpkin again and the chauffeur (who looked a lot like John Fischer) turned back to the farm dog and the security guards into mice; Cindyrella’s beautiful Valentino appliquéd silk-organza gown turned back to rags, and her other Christian Louboutin heel with the red sole disappeared as well leaving her barefoot and alone on the curb.
Cindyrella: Oh no! Time is up and now everything is gone. My beautiful dress and my beautiful heels, where are they? Even worse… Nothing I posted on Instagram is there!!! Was this just a dream? Now no one will believe me. And now I don’t even know if my donation got recorded in time!
Narrator: Meanwhile the Prince, who was now madly in love with her, picked up the shoe she left behind and said to his ministers:
Prince: Oh look! It’s a Christian Louboutin heel with the red sole. I want you to search everywhere for the girl who fits this shoe and don’t stop until you find her. I will never be content without her, and I don’t even know her name!
Narrator: So the next day the ministers made their way throughout the entire kingdom trying the shoe on the feet of all the girls until they found Cindyrella and surprise! The shoe fit perfectly! Then the Prince looked at Cindyrella and at that very moment, a church choir began singing the chorus from the “Angels’ Song” from John Fischer’s newly remastered Naphtali album and an almost heavenly-like glow enveloped the lovers.
Step Sister 1: That awful untidy girl simply cannot have been at the ball. Tell the Prince he ought to marry me. Can’t you see how ugly Cinderella is! Can’t you see?”
Narrator: Suddenly she broke off, for the fairy godmother had appeared.
Fairy godmother: That’s enough!
Narrator: And raising her magic wand, in a flash, Stepsister 1 was turned into a beautiful, kind, warm-hearted woman full of grace.
Fairy godmother: And while I’m at it …
Narrator: She swept her wand over Stepsister 2 and she, too became a kind, forgiving, graceful woman, beautiful on the inside and out. Now everyone could celebrate Cindyrella’s happiness and care about someone other than themselves.
Prince: (smiling) You are the one I’ve been looking for! What is your name?
Cindyrella: (smiling) My name is Cindyrella.
Prince: Wait, did you say your name is Cindyrella? My name is listed just below your name in this year’s end of year Catch contributors. How cool is that?
Narrator: So Cindyrella’s donation had been recorded in time, and the smug Prince, who had made her feel bad about being so late with her donation, barely got his in behind her!
And so the Prince had found his princess, The Catch went viral on social media, the stepsisters became boots on the ground manifestations of grace turned outward everywhere, and the Prince and Cindyrella lived happily ever after.
The gospel is like a fairy tale in that things are not always as they appear to be. In the gospel, the last shall be first, the poor shall be exalted, the hungry shall be filled, the unworthy shall be made worthy, and the sinners shall rejoice in their salvation!. The fairy tale, like truth, reveals what is really there. Things are not always as they appear to be because the truth of things is often hidden. The fairy godmother didn’t magically make Cindyrella beautiful, she “uncovered” her beauty that was already there, but hidden by her poverty and servitude.
Fairy tales give us a glimpse of the magic behind things – the power of God to operate outside of the laws of tradition and convention – indeed, to operate outside of its own laws. Fairy tales part the curtain ever so slightly on the impossible made possible, the miracle made real, the grace that defies the laws of sowing and reaping.
Over this holiday season, we have been listening to the audio version of the book, Christmas Eve 1914 by Charles Olivier, about the remarkable story of how German and English troops stopped fighting on Christmas Eve, 1914, and crossed their fighting lines to celebrate Christmas together, on the year “war took a holiday.” The closing paragraph of that book chronicles a true “fairy tale” event.
“Hope, this thing we had given up on, had come as if born miraculously that Christmas 1914. And all down the front lines, from the North Sea to Switzerland, soldiers emerged from their holes, their slimy hiding places – and shook hands. That Christmas was tender, and quiet, like an infant, just the sound of men laughing, eating, playing games together. Fragile. Holy. The impossible made possible through grace.”
That the word “grace” found its way into this description of events is a testament to the author’s understanding of what grace is and does. Grace has no human component. It is entirely God-given and it defies logic, reason, and stands cause and effect on its head. It is the invasion of the miraculous on our boring, predictable reality. It is the fairy tale come true.
Frederick Buechner in his book, Telling the Truth: The Gospel as Tragedy, Comedy and Fairy Tale wrote: “That is the fairy tale of the Gospel with, of course, the one crucial difference from all other fairy tales, which is that the claim made for it is that it is true, that it not only happened once upon a time but has kept on happening ever since and is happening still. To preach the Gospel in its original power and mystery is to claim in whatever way the preacher finds it possible to claim it that once upon a time is this time, now, and here is the dark wood that the light gleams at the heart of like a jewel, and the ones who are to live happily ever after are … all who labor and are heavy laden, the poor naked wretches wheresoever they be.”
Happy New Year everybody!
Note: This is the last time to receive our “Thank You” gift of a free download of John’s newly remastered albums, Naphtali and Inside.
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