Iron Mountain ski jump

Iron Mountain ski jump

Friday, August 14, 2015


CHRIST IN WINTER: Reflections on Faith for the Years of Winter… ©

In my third year of college, I was in my second year of preaching. I had “a three-point charge” [three churches]. I was out of sermons.

I never really had any sermons to begin with, so I was always behind the starting line. I worked hard all week, but by the time Sunday night came, I was out again.

When I had told the District Superintendent that I thought I was “called” to the ministry, I sort of hoped he would persuade me otherwise. Or at least tell me to come back after I had finished three more years of college and three of seminary [theological school]. Instead, he said, “Good. I’ve got three churches open. You can start this Sunday.”

After a year of scrabbling every week to create a sermon, as well as scrabbling to get through my classes, I needed help. So I went to The School of The Prophets, the week in August before school began, for ministers in our state, to get some inspiration and some ideas for the year ahead.

There I heard Webb Garrison. I still have his book, The Preacher and His Audience, but it was hearing him preach and lecture that convinced me of the power of storytelling. I still remember the story with which he led…

A little boy told his teacher he had a stomach ache. She sent him to the office. [Few schools in those days had nurses.] He returned, walking with his shoulders pulled far back and his stomach stuck way out. [Webb demonstrated.] “What are you doing?” the teacher asked. He replied, “The principal told me if I could stick it out ‘til recess, he’d take me home.”

It’s such a marvelous story, about the necessity of precise communication, but also about the necessity of persistence. I thought about it often when I was in the hospital. If I can just stick it out long enough, I can go home.

In fact, it’s a story about life in general, isn’t it? Death is sort of like recess. This life has its aches and pains, but if I can stick it out ‘til recess, God will take me home.

John Robert McFarland

I started this blog several years ago, when we followed the grandchildren to the “place of winter,” Iron Mountain, in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula [The UP]. I put that in the sub-title, Reflections on Faith from a Place of Winter for the Years of Winter, where life is defined by winter even in the summer! [This phrase is explained in the post for March 20, 2014.]

I tweet as yooper1721.

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