Winterville United Methodist Church

Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors

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Blog posts February 2017

February 20, 2017 “Time to Clean Out the Basement”

February 20, 2017

We are moving along with the decades-long renovation of our old house, but upon reaching the state of completion that currently exists we must pause, take stock of what remains to be done, and establish next steps.  As we pause we realize that we now are in the state where we need closet space—space for clothes and shoes and sweaters that we wear every day--but there is a problem.  Until now closets have mostly served to store tools, wood purchased at the local Lowe’s, moldings that have been removed but not reinstalled.  All the items stored in the closets are important items.  We cannot throw them away.  They will serve a purpose at a later stage of our renovation, but for now they need to find a new home so that the closets may serve their designated purpose!

 

What can we do?  The thought pops into our minds that comes so very frequently for folks wondering where to put things in their homes, “Why not move all this stuff to the basement?”  Keep in mind that in your home it might be the attic or the garage; the same principal applies.

 

Yes, why not move all this stuff to the basement?  There’s one small problem.  Our basement looks like the typical basement belonging to anyone who hasn’t done a recent cleaning-out process.  Broken chairs cast aside with the intention of sooner or later getting them fixed, camping supplies held over from the last camping trip two decades ago, spare parts for items that have long ago been sent to the trash heap—all these wind up in our basements or attics or garages! 

 

Here's what we realize--until we get rid of the junk there’s no room for the good stuff!  A thorough, radical cleaning is the only thing that will help!

 

Jesus speaks volumes about thorough and radical kinds of cleaning, but for him the topic under discussion is not basements or attics or garages.  Instead the topic under discussion is our hearts and our lives.  Until we turn our hearts and lives over to God and allow God to do the thorough and radical kind of cleaning that is so desperately needed, there is no room for the good stuff—no room to fully experience God’s love, no room to fully connect with the people around us in the fullness of God’s love!  As we begin to ponder spring cleaning, may we also remember God’s calling to the cleaning—the washing white as snow—of our spiritual lives!

 

 

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February 13, 2017 “This Lonesome Valley”

February 12, 2017

Life can be filled with many lonely experiences.  We can be lonely when we are completely to ourselves for extended periods of time—ask anyone who has lost a spouse.  We can be lonely when we are going through difficult experiences and when it seems no one really understands.  We can even be lonely when in a room full of people!

 

There’s a song that sings about Jesus’ lonely experiences.  The words go, “Jesus walked this lonesome valley.  He had to walk it by himself.  Nobody else could walk it for him.  He had to walk it for himself.”

 

I drove the winding road from Commerce to Neese, all alone in the dark.  It was an entirely different experience from the many times I had traveled the road in the day.  The twisting lane with the long stretches between houses seemed lonely and forlorn.  I found myself ready to escape—ready to be back at home with lights on in the house!

 

Suddenly, though, a cross popped out at me in the night sky.  It was set a significant distance from the road and a sizeable stretch from the house where I imagined the persons who constructed it lived.  Though I had seen the cross in casual glances as I made my trips in the light, on this night it leaped out at me.  Draped in white lights, it seemed to speak out of the darkness that surrounded it.

 

It spoke to me about Jesus’ many lonely experiences in his life in this world—experiences that surely must have made him wrestle with his difficulties and to want to escape into some safe places with light surrounding him.  But the escape route he never pursued.

 

Instead, he placed himself wholely and completely into God’s hands.  He prayed the prayer about the cross, “Father, if this cup can pass from me, let it be so; nevertheless, not my will but yours be done!”

 

The long road to the cross most certainly for Jesus was lonely.  Even when he was surrounded by followers, even when he was surrounded by those who loved him, he experienced loneliness—loneliness because no one could completely understand his path of service to God, loneliness when sometimes they denied him and abandoned him, loneliness because the task of breathing the last breath and passing from this life to the next is a path each of us must travel without benefit of others to accompany us.

 

The thought reached out and grabbed me as I glimpsed the lighted cross by the side of the road in the dark—Jesus made his long, lonely journey so that I would never have to be alone.  Jesus made his long, lonely journey so that ultimately I would never be alone or afraid or helpless or hopeless.  In all these experiences, Christ is there—and that makes all the difference!

 

 

 

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February 6, 2017 “A Stitch in Time”

February 6, 2017

My heart was touched when he brought the crib-sized, handmade quilt and placed it in my lap with these words, “Can you stitch it back together?”  I hadn’t seen the quilt in decades—the quilt lovingly made by my grandmother when I was pregnant, the quilt loved and carried through many a mile of my son’s childhood pursuits.  It had seemed only logical that I take it out of its storage and take it to his house as soon as he began having children of his own.

 

But now it is tattered.  The blocks are coming apart from one another.  The blocks are coming loose from the background.  The binding is coming unsewn.  There is hardly a seam in the whole quilt that is entirely intact.

 

What touched my heart was his recognition of this—this gift from the third generation removed from him—as something to be mended and brought back to life for his own children and potentially future generations of children to enjoy.  After all we live in a throw-away world.  We live in a world where everything carries a pricetag and where things without a high dollar value are often cast aside, thrown into the trash heap, replaced by something of greater dollar value!

 

But who can put a pricetag on stitches made by loving hands eagerly anticipating the birth of a great grandchild?  Who can put a pricetag on items that have weathered childhood and that beg for the opportunity to weather the escapades of future generations of children?

 

My hands will grasp the quilt with memories flooding into my brain—memories of the sweet woman who made the quilt, memories of my child who carried it in his arms or dragged it behind him wherever he went.  More importantly, however, my hands will grasp the needle and the thread with a committed heart and with dogged determination to preserve that which needs to be preserved.  My hands will be relentless until the stitch in time is complete!

 

It occurred to me—just as we are casual about items in the world around us, so are we casual about people in the world around us.  We sometimes will cast people aside or devalue people and replace them with “newer, better” models. 

 

But what if?  What if we were convinced of the value of people—people like ourselves, people different from ourselves, people who are easy to love, people who are hard to loved?  What if we made the commitment to protect and preserve relationships?  What if we dedicated ourselves to the hard work of repairing relationships that may be broken?  “A stitch in time saves nine,” says the old expression!

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