CHRIST IN WINTER: Reflections on Faith for the Years of Winter… ©
We were taking a water break, standing in the shade beside the moving truck. The bishop was moving me to another church, and the local “transfer” company was moving our stuff there. The leader of the moving crew was Jeff, a rock singer and guitarist by night, who looked like a Mexican bandit in “Viva Zapata.” The rest of his crew were guys he had picked up that morning at a Main Street tavern. When Jeff learned I was a minister, he was delighted, for he had just started going to church, in his late 20s, and everything about Jesus was new to him, and he wanted to talk about it.
“Have you ever heard that story he told, about the kid who took all the father’s money and ran away from home and spent it on drugs and booze,” he asked. I allowed as how I had, but the guys from the tavern looked slightly alarmed. Jeff launched into the story, as it had been told in his church the Sunday before, as it will be told in countless churches this morning for it is the Gospel lectionary reading for today. He told it with wide-eyed wonder and a catch in his voice. He just couldn’t believe the father would take his son back after the way he had treated him.
The tavern guys weren’t as impressed with the story as Jeff and I were. When he told the part about how the son was so poor he had to sleep in the barn with the pigs, one of them snorted and said, “I’ve slept with lots of pigs.” The others thought that was a hoot. Jeff didn’t care. He was so enthralled, he just kept on telling the story.
Every time I hear this story, as I will this morning, I think about Jeff and his co-workers. I never saw them again, of course. They moved us to our new home and then went back to their old home. I just hope that each time they return with their truck empty, the way the one we call the prodigal son returned with his pockets and his heart empty, someone is watching and waiting, read to fill the emptiness with that open love that impressed Jeff so much the first time he heard about it.
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.] The grandchildren, though, are grown up, so in May, 2015 we moved “home,” to Bloomington, IN, where we met and married. It’s not a “place of winter,” but we are still in winter years of the life cycle, so I am still trying to understand what it means to be a follower of Christ in winter…
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