Winterville United Methodist Church

Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors

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Blog posts November 2016

November 28, 2016 “More, Please!”

November 27, 2016

As families gather together for holidays and various celebrations inevitably “treasures” come our way that we will never forget.  One of those happened this past week as my three children, their spouses, and our eleven grandchildren came for Thanksgiving.

 

Sleeping arrangements for Thanksgiving night were under discussion.  The six adults—children and their spouses—opted for locations OTHER THAN the high-decibel climate of the church parsonage where MaMaw, Granddaddy, and nine of the eleven grandchildren would try to settle down for rest and perhaps even a little shut-eye!

 

Lily Mae, our youngest, decided to protest the arrangement as soon as the announcement came that it was time for bed.  But wanting to avoid disturbing Mom and Dad and causing them to have to make a return trip to the parsonage to retrieve the youngest of the lot, the older sisters did some quick thinking.  It seemed to them in the moment that all Lily Mae needed was some logical reason why her mother was noticeably absent and some reassurance of her quick return.

 

“Mommy’s gone out to get doughnuts,” they said.  Lily Mae bought the explanation hook, line, and sinker.  While it may not be the best thing in the world to have Mommy out of sight, a two-year-old can console herself with the promise of a sweet reunion in the near future as well as with the promise of a favorite literal bit of sweetness!

 

The nodding off to sleep was a bit touch-and go, but the watching of favorite cartoons from a soft spot on the pull-out sofa nestled between two caring sisters soon lulled the two-year old into the much-needed shut-eye!  The next day Mommy returned just as promised.   Mommy—after some prompts from the grandparents of the necessity of not coming home empty-handed—arrived doughnuts in hand!

 

Lily Mae had resisted any encouragement toward eggs for breakfast.  Instead she held out for her doughnut!  Her eyes lighted up like high-beam headlights as Mommy brought the boxes into the house.  She gobbled the first one down, announced to her parents that it was all gone.  Then she asked for another one of the sweet convections!  Her mother hesitated and told her to ask her father—just what any thinking parent would do!

 

Lily Mae tried again.  “More pwease,” she said in her best pleading, two-year-old voice!  Then, as if for emphasis, she formed her two hands into circles made with the index fingers meeting the thumbs and then tapped the two circles together.  The gesture was one taught to her even before language could develop.  “More!”  said her two hands as the finger-circles tapped one another.

 

It's the time of year for more—more sweetness, more graciousness, more goodness, more peace, more of the sitting in the presence of a Christ Child born in a manger.  Thank God we never have to plead or to beg.  We don’t have to scream or gesture with finger circles.  Instead God is there for the asking—there to grant us infinite numbers of opportunities to encounter the Christ Child!

 

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November 21, 2016 “Over the River and Through the Wood”

November 21, 2016

Public school music was scarce in my day.  Occasionally the school contracted with a musician who came in one day a week and taught all eight grades of students one class at a time in the school gymnasium.  But somehow in those lean days of school music we learned a few of the “classics.”  “Over the River and Through the Wood” was one of them!”

            Over the river and through the wood to Grandmother’s house we go.

            The horse knows the way to carry the sleigh through the white and drifted snow.

            Over the river and through the wood, oh how the wind does blow!

            It stings the toes and bites the nose as over the ground we go!

 

The song was far from the reality we lived.  Most of us could walk or ride in our cars the short distances to our grandparents’ homes—forget “the wood” part.  None of us—my school mates and I—had ever seen a sleigh, and even if we had, we all knew it never snows in North Carolina in November.  We would never expect “white and drifting snow” for Thanksgiving!  But maybe—just maybe—we could expect a little stirring wind—wind to “sting the toes and bite the nose!”

 

Despite its less-than-accurate description of our Thanksgiving experience we sang that song with gusto!  Somehow it stirred within us a sense of anticipation about time with family and friends around a shared table of food.

 

And speaking of tables—how the tables have turned!  I am no longer singing about nor anticipating heading to Grandmother’s house for Thanksgiving.  Instead I am the Grandmother, and grandchildren are beginning to show up at my house for our family’s time together! 

 

The song does no more for depicting my grandchildren’s experience of Thanksgiving than it did for me.  They know nothing of snow for Thanksgiving, especially the ones who live in South Florida.  Probably none of the eleven has even seen nor ridden in a sleigh.  Yet, hopefully this new generation can sing the song with a great sense of anticipation about coming to Grandmother’s house just as much as did I!  

 

The blessings of God continue!  They go on generation after generation after generation.  I certainly can raise to God a hearty, “Thank you, God, for the opportunity to be a grandmother!”

 

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November 14, 2016 “The Remnant of God”

November 14, 2016

God calls the prophet Haggai to speak to the “remnant”—those who have been taken into captivity in Babylon but who now are able to return.  The remnant—the small band of the people of God must have been daunted by the task to which God was calling them—rebuilding the temple and restoring it to its former glory.

As a child I heard the word, “remnant” often, but it was used in connection with fabric—scraps left over from my mother’s dressmaking endeavors for sewing customers.  Some would consider them worthless—ready for the trash—but mother saw their value and crafted them into the clothes that I wore.  But even after making my clothes there were leftover remnants though smaller still.  These my mother turned over to my grandmother for use in the quilts she made.

I can remember lying in bed at night under the weight of quilts.  When I couldn’t immediately go to sleep I turned my attention to quilt squares and tried to remember the original garments from which the squares were cut.  I could label them—grandmother’s dress, granddaddy’s shirt, mother’s skirt!  It was truly amazing—these tiny scraps that were now woven into a beautiful whole.

I am thankful to a God who speaks to the remnant—to people who sometimes consider themselves as too few in number or resources—to make an impact.  I am thankful God calls us to bring who we are and what we have and to trust him to make something amazing from it all.  I am thankful to God who cherishes each one of us—a God who never throws anyone away or casts them aside—but rather loves them into the kingdom!  I am thankful for a God whose work always is toward weaving us into a beautiful whole!

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November 7, 2016 “Have a Picnic”

November 7, 2016

My birthday is just around the corner, and as my birthday approaches I always begin thinking about how I’d like to spend my time—about some of the things I’d like to do to celebrate.  I am at the age, of course, when there are things much more important than gifts to unwrap, and most of those involve having good times, doing fun things with special friends and family.

Obviously I’m not a summertime birthday person.  By November 17 the weather in Georgia normally has cooled off considerably.  But I am a summertime person in terms of one of my favorite things to do!  I love, love, love picnics!

I can remember one November when I decided that something I really wanted to do during my birthday month was to go on a picnic on Sunday after church.  I made great food.  We went to church and on to our picnic site, but even the bravest of souls could only manage to stay at the picnic table long enough to gobble down a very few bites of food!  

My family always says, “Never let Shirley plan a picnic because you can be sure that whenever she does the weather will be horrible—cold, rainy, windy or some combination thereof!”  I think they might have over-stated that just a bit; yet, I can think of a time in August—August when it’s supposed to be sunny and 95 degrees—that Ken and I ate fried chicken and enjoyed the view from Brasstown Bald sitting in the car as opposed to from the picnic table!

Sometimes we simply find ourselves—summertime people living in a wintertime world.  And sometimes we plant ourselves in summertime surroundings only to have winter intrude on our existence!  So what do we do?  Have a picnic ANYWAY!

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