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: Jesus said, “If the world hates you, be aware that it hated me before it hated you.  . . .  If they persecuted me, they will persecute you.” John 15:18; 15:20b, NIV
    Nobody wants to be an ugly duckling. If you are familiar with the story by Hans Christian Andersen, you know that the “ugly duckling” turns out to be a lovely swan by the end of the story. Since I wanted to write about the way the other birds treated the one who was “different” I  read the story again. Predictably, I had forgotten many of the details of the story.
    The duck that hatches the cygnet, which is what young swans are called, notes that even the egg is larger than her other duck eggs, and also takes longer to hatch. Advised by another duck to abandon the egg, as it  is possibly a turkey, she nevertheless sits until the egg hatches. The new hatchling is conspicuously larger than the other ducklings, and deemed to be ugly by their standards.
    The “queer object” is immediately rejected and pecked by another duck in the farmyard “society.” In  fact,  the ugly  duckling  is  bitten, pushed, and made fun of by all the poultry. His brothers and sisters are unkind to him, and his mother wishes he had never been born. Even the little girl who fed the poultry kicked him.  
     The author further illustrates his fable with examples of prejudice and persecution. Although Mamma duck was pleased that the duckling could swim, the cat and hen thought swimming was an absurd idea; further, the duckling could neither purr or lay eggs. “Who can understand you,” proclaims the hen.
    The duckling spends the winter in isolation, experiencing “misery and privations.”
    One spring day, as the sun is shining and the lark singing, the duckling finds his wings, and flies to a large garden. What a  contrast to the unpleasantness he has known until that time! His joy at the beauty around him is tempered by the sight of some lovely swans. Fully expecting the usual rejection, and even possible death, because such beautiful creatures surely would be repulsed at his ugliness, he approaches the swans. To his amazement, he is not only accepted, but welcomed - as one of them! He cries joyfully, from the depths of his heart, “I never dreamed of such happiness as this, while I was an ugly duckling.”
    A fable, yes, but a moral one. We play many  roles  in  our  lives.  There  are  times  of misunderstanding, both of ourselves, and of others. We are both the object of prejudice, and the instigator of prejudice. We persecute, and are in turn persecuted.
    But we should know this: as Christ was - misunderstood and rejected - so are we.
As He is
- raised up and accepted - so shall we be.  
    In the presence of His beauty, we, too, shall exclaim, “I never dreamed of such happiness as this, while I was an ugly duckling.”

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