Iron Mountain ski jump

Iron Mountain ski jump

Monday, April 4, 2016


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

Continuing the story of 108 year-old Ophia Miller’s funeral:

Dr. Douglas Low’s funeral sermon for Donna’s mother was a great example of ABCD preaching. Good short story writers and good preachers automatically use ABCD, even if they don’t know it.

Dr. Low [pronounced like Loud without the “d”] took an episode from each quarter century or so of Ophia’s life and examined that episode, on the theory that she had learned much in her many years and had truths to teach us.

One of those points: Ophia lived through The Great Depression, the era of hoboes. [1] Many people feared them and had nothing to do with them, turned them away. Ophia raised chickens, so she had eggs, and she made egg sandwiches for them. “They’re not bad people,” she said. “They’re just trying to get to where they need to be.”

Dr. Low [2] noted that his mother made him come into the house when she fed hoboes, and Helen’s mother did the same. That is just smart. Jesus had something to say about that. “Be as gentle as doves but as wise as serpents.” [Matthew 10:16.] In fact, after Ophia had moved to town, she acknowledged to her family that she had been afraid out in the country near the railroad tracks, a widow by herself. She did not let her fear, however, make all her decisions for her.

In telling a story well, A is for Action, B is for Background—and in preaching, that B usually stands for Bible—C is for Conflict, and D is for Denouement [unrolling] or, in preaching, Decision.

You don’t start with introduction, or information. You start with action. That is literally “where the action is.” Dr. Low took the A of feeding the hoboes…

…gave the B [Bible] of Gospel [what Jesus says about kindness to strangers, referring that to refugees, since they are the hoboes of our era] and B of Background, the Great Depression…

…examined the C between fearing and helping…

…and the D of decision to overcome fear with kindness, helping people who were trying to get to where they need to be, including new life after death. [Ophelia died on Easter morning.]

Writing, or preaching, or just telling a story to your friends, is as simple as ABC, and D.


1] Hobo was originally HoBo, short for Homeward Bound, applied to soldiers trying to get home anyway they could after the Civil War. During the Great Depression, it was applied to any man trying to find a job, or just leaving home so there would be one less mouth there to feed there.

2] Douglas Low is both pastor of Good Shepherd United Methodist Church in Oakland City, IN and Professor of New Testament in the Chapman Seminary of Oakland City University.

My youthful ambition was to be a journalist, and write a column for a newspaper. So I think of this blog as an online column. I started it 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.] We no longer live in “the place of winter.” The grandchildren grew 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 continue to work at understanding what it means to be a follower of Christ in winter…

I tweet as yooper1721.

My book, NOW THAT I HAVE CANCER I AM WHOLE: Reflections on Life and Healing for Cancer Patients and Those Who Love Them, is published in two editions by AndrewsMcMeel, in audio by HarperAudio, and in Czech and Japanese translations. It’s incredibly inexpensive at many sites on the web.

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