CHRIST IN WINTER: Reflections on Faith for the Years of Winter
A family bought an old house. They found that it had “settled” a bit, as old things do, and was a little out of line, as old things get. That meant the front door stuck. The only way they could get it open was to pry it with the blade of a hatchet. So they just used the door that was to the side and out of sight.
New to the town, they went to church the first Sunday. The pastor, true to his vocation, went to call on them. He knocked at the logical door, the one in front, and heard someone inside yell, “It’s the preacher. Get the hatchet.”
We had a big celebration in church this yesterday. Our evening custodian, Jeff, and his wife, Carla, were approved for a Habitat home several months ago. They are raising two granddaughters, and have been for 3 years. Got them when one was four years old and the other just 5 months. Now the house is finished and almost ready to move in. We had a housewarming for them after church, with gifts and gift cards, for places where they can get things to use in their new home, and lots of money to get air-conditioning installed. You end up with “lots” of money when many people each gives a little.
The house was built in ten days, on a flat-bed, in the parking lot of the Indiana University football stadium, so IU students could work on it. Over 400 did so. And Jeff and Carla put in 500 hours of owner equity, too. Church people and community people worked on it, also. When it was finished, they just hooked up a semi-tractor to the flat bed and pulled it to the lot where they will live. 
We saw a lot of pictures of the process of construction. I loved the one that showed about 30 people of all ages and sizes pushing together to raise a long side wall up into place.
Our church has a big building, including a pre-school, so we have 3 custodians. Jeff’s role in the evening is important, because St. Mark’s lets any non-profit use our building free. It’s part of our ministry. Scouts, AA, etc. take advantage of that policy. In fact, we host over 40 such groups.
In worship before the housewarming, Mary Beth Morgan  preached on the story of Zacchaeus and Jesus, in which Jesus said to the wee little man, [as he has been celebrated in Sunday school songs for years] “I’m coming to your house today.” How do we respond when someone says that to us? Somebody like… Jesus?
Helen and I live in a signed community. That’s the poor people’s version of a gated community. We have signs that say, “No Soliciting.” That’s okay, I think. But I grew up in a county that once had “No Niggers”  signs at its borders. What about signs, physical or otherwise, that say: No Gays, No Refugees, No Mexicans, No Muslims, No Homeless?
I spent the whole house-warming lunch yesterday playing with 10 month old Cayenne, who always giggles at me like I’m the best thing since strained peas. Please don’t ever make me live in one of those places for old people that has a “No Children” sign.
Jeff & Carla’s little granddaughters wanted a reading nook in their new home, so our Sunday School kids made book boxes, full of books, for them. They squealed with delight. As we left, they had taken their books to Ellie O’Connor, a little old lady who moved here from Virginia a couple of years ago to be near her daughter, and she was reading to them. It was a sweet moment that caught the best of what a church, and the world, can be.
Yes, get the damned hatchet. Use it to pry the door open.
1]Normally they could have just lived in the stadium parking lot since nobody goes to the games, but IU football is getting better, and when we beat Michigan in a couple of weeks…
2] Helen says I can no longer refer to Mary Beth as “the best preacher at St. Mark’s” because Jimmy Moore, her husband and our other preacher, might get his feelings hurt. Sheesh!
3] I know that is a word we don’t use, except some did and do, and if we don’t face reality, “warts and all,” we enable those who want to warp the perception of reality so that we don’t have to change it.
BTW, Happy All Saints. “For all the saints, who from their labors rest…”
The problem with writing a blog for old people is an ever-diminishing population, of people who cannot remember to go to the blog site.