Archive for February, 2008
We arrived back in Western Oklahoma Wednesday afternoon and after some difficulty backing our 5th wheel into our place we settled in to our second or is it third home? Thanks to all of you who commented or sent emails about my homesickness for Washington. I know, things change, nothing ever stays the same, you have to move on, you have to know when to fold them and all the other true statements of life but no matter where we roam there will always be a tug on my heart for the place and the people in the place called Mason County, Washington.
One of the things that being in Sayre allows me to do is write. I have some current responsibilities here and hope to have more, but putting some of my time into writing for the Juniper Tree is part of my calling that is affirmed by those who I serve here.
After more than 260 individual posts to this blog over a 14 month period, finding topics to write about is not the biggest problem, the problem is to keep them readable, interesting and helpful to the 200 or so regular readers of the blog. I not only value your input I need it to keep my end fresh and worthy of the time you give to it. The only real disappointment I have related to the Juniper Tree is that there are so many consistent readers but few consistent commentators. My friend Doug wrote recently “write interesting stuff and you will get comments”. Doug has never been shy in telling me how things really are!
But comments or not I will forge on because blogging at it’s core is about the blogger. This is not a commercial enterprise, in fact the blogs that make the blogger an income tend, it seems to me, to become more about what people will read than what the writer wanted to say, this is, however a place for me to write what is on my mind and in my heart and the invitation is there every time I post for you to read what I write. I am always pleased that what I write gets read, but at the same time if I am going to do this right, it have to do it because value flows back to me when I do.
I will be writing more on the Kingdom as I am convinced it is Everything the person of Biblical faith is to be about. I want to critique the church and church people. I have some political things to rant about and I want to bring some thoughts to bare on the culture both Christian and secular, among other things. There will continue to be Monday Morning Meanderings and my friend Leslee is pushing a Friday Funny. Will have to see about that one. Just being in Sayre is always good for a post or two as well.
Blessings to all of you and thanks for reading and when it is interesting in whatever way, bring your comments to the table. I might even respond to them and make the journey even more interesting.
We received word yesterday of the passing of our friend Mabel Goodwin. Mabel was 97 years old. It is amazing for me to think that when I first met Mabel, more than 19 years ago, she was nearly 80 years old and still working everyday as the custodian in the church I began pastoring in 1989. How long she had been in her place before we came to the church I don’t recall, but if there was an individual who typified all that was good about that 100 year old church, it was Mabel.
For those of you who are not pastors you might not understand this comment but I will write it anyway. Mabel was one of those people whose memorial service I looked forward to leading. Certainly not because I wanted her to pass on, but because there are those whose lives and experience with their Father is so rich, full and blessed you enjoy sharing their story with those who come to celebrate their lives. It would have been a joy to eulogize Mabel but since that isn’t going to happen, I speak well of her here.
She lived across the street from the church, so she not only cleaned the building she locked and unlocked it before and after nearly every gathering, no matter the weather or the time of day. She seemed to have some sixth sense, that told her when meetings were concluded, so that she would just appear when it was time to close up. I don’t imagine I had to lock or unlock a door more than a handful of times in all the years she was on the job.
I still remember the day we began to talk about her retirement. Our facilities had expanded by several thousand square feet during her tenure and she no longer could keep up with everything. I told her she could have a job as long as she wanted it, but we were going to get her some help. She was so thankful and gracious about it all. She continued to work for a couple more years and then for several years after that the leadership of the church graciously continued to pay her as a form of retirement pay. I suppose at that point I had seen her and visited with her most every day for nearly 10 years. She was an important part of church life and very much a part of my life.
Mabel was a positive, hopeful and strong woman. She had to have been nearly 90 when she was struck by a motor home while crossing the street in downtown Shelton. She was injured badly and I wondered if she would make it but make it she did and did very well for many more years.
After that accident she moved from her home across the street from the church into an apartment in a senior complex a mile or so away. But she never missed church, always sitting in the pew across the aisle from where I sat with my family. During the greeting time we never failed to give her a hug and tell her how glad we were to see her.
Toward the end of my pastorate I stopped wearing ties on many Sundays. Mabel never said anything about the missing tie but when I would wear one she would always tell me how handsome I looked in a tie. Almost made me want to go back to wearing one every Sunday!
Linda, our kids and I, really enjoyed hearing her sing along during our worship time, even though the songs we sang were not hymns and were not songs she knew, she would sing out and raise her hands in worship and never seemed to get caught up in the arguments and rhetoric about music or worship that many of her contemporaries did.
Perhaps the greatest blessing Mabel gave me came after my abrupt and difficult exit from the church. I was not given the opportunity to say good bye to her or anyone else when I left, but one night several months later I received a phone call from a woman whose relationship to Mabel was never clear to me, but this person was going through some very hard times and needed some Spiritual guidance. When the woman told me who she was, she said something like this: “Mabel Goodwin told me to call you because she thinks so much of you and knew you would be able to help me.” She went on to say Mabel told her: “You call Pastor Greg because he will know how to help you.”
You cannot imagine how that referral blessed me. For Mabel, blessing others was not difficult.
The poem writer David wrote: Blessed in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints… Still true.