Once upon a time I presumed to be proficient enough in theology as to teach a SS class at the local UMC. I will never forget when Mark G helped a girl out with a reference to Hebrews 11:1. "Faith is made of a core belief system that what we hope for will happen." We believe in things unseen like one big god who demands that it be done this way or that (NOT). To hell with the Pharisees and them. It was not until I saw a dramatic re-creation of the walk to the cross that I understood the sacrifice. Certainly didn't have to do it, and cried out to his God to give him strength to get through it. Worldwide religious conflicts are tearing the globe apart one country at a time. And meanwhile, back here in good old Tennessee we're arguing over bathrooms. Talk about a sweet job for a perv...door police. Just say no. We do, however, have wine coming to local store shelves so maybe we can get a Publix or something. A girl can always dream.
My parents taught me to be obedient and mostly kind in a 1950ish sort of way. Daddy was raised Baptist and converted to the Methodist side when us kids came along. Mama's heritage there is epic going all the way back to the congregations that led to the corner of Main and McGaughey. That is where I grew up with an entire generation of folks who are still my BFFs when the shit hits the fan. Which is often, by the way. Thank God I have nice neighbors.
The first senior pastor I remember is Hank Russell whom I met years later at annual conference. In true Methodist fashion, they came and went and one even got in trouble with the secretary for not being Christlike. The next one I remember is Larry Tubb who was all hippie and precious with his family and our first "youth" minister. He organized MYF and made it happen with high school kids when it wasn't really a priority for the powers that be. Daddy raised hell to get us a dance in the fellowship hall and it NEVER happened.
There were others who spoke to me as God's messenger over the years. Cecil Kirk was one of them and so was Ronnie Peck. Wade Cox. Willis Gilliland. Patti Lou ( god love her ) is my hero up in that church and I do believe VBS is coming up soon! If you ask me it's a wise move to get the parents involved with that stuff. Do it after work or something. So many other people in my faith community have stayed in touch and reached a hand out when I thought all was lost. That's where the believing part comes in. Negativity and retribution lead to nothing but drama.
"For without faith, it is impossible to please him." It's really scary to let go and let God or Big Ernie of whomever your higher power is. You are not in charge, nor am I. Sometimes I think back to the betrayal of Jesus by those groupies and gasp. But more often I recognize myself in some way. We each have our demons and when push comes to shove, most people save their own ass. That reminds me of a story involving a pair of Army buddies in Iraq many years ago. They were on search and rescue and changed positions when Sean was fatally shot. It was during the time when the whole deal was still raging and we were sacrificing a generation to defend what? Oil. *thanks cheney
One of my favorite memories is of the ex COC member playing his trombone during the Easter extravaganza. The bell choir is always exquisite and the clergy are humble and kind. I doubt seriously I'll be escaping to a megachurch anytime soon. Who wants 5K people at a service???? Bennie Hinn...that's who. The numbers at FUMC are staying pretty stable considering the dying out of a generation or five and a focus on outreach to the lesser of these. Nancy Hardin is another mentor and she still has Jason Tarpley's piano to practice on following a free tuneup by Cooper.
So many wonderful folks from that home church have passed on. Mama and I showed up for All Saint's day and cried a bunch. KayKay was nearby doing aftercare. This November the bell will toll for Mom. Donna Locke is a PK who married the aforementioned minister of music and I will never forget the look on her face when we listened to that tone in her mother's memory. I swear I saw God floating right in through the stained glass windows. There's only one member of the men's quartet left so somebody better get busy with the spirituals. Steve C?
I had a really hard time with the business/religion mix that was my church and employer. I remember going to AC that night and after the service Gary Shorb popped up in there for a little show and tell on Methodist Healthcare's vision for West Tennessee. We were sold as a parcel in 2003, the entire market. Two have closed, others are under utilized due to poor planning. It's by nothing but the grace of God that people are there who want to help you...like, if you were family. Dell King has been one of those people to me and so has Marti Artibee. Aleece Jackson. Delores Jones. There's that Methodist thread again.Mark and Jodie Agee. Carl and Linda Seely. Didi Paschall Christie Steve Mischke. George Lanier. Donnie Hardin. Jim Godsey. Thanks to all of you for helping me to keep the faith. I know I'm rambling, but it's good therapy to say thanks and be humble. None of us keeps the faith by doing it on our own. Only through a higher power can that happen. Put down the damn remote and help people ya'll! It's farmer's market season so get out there and shop.
Buy local ~