Roanoke Church of Christ



I put the ol’ Farmall into “mule gear” as pa used to say, so it wouldn’t get away from me as I started down the steep hill by the big oak tree. I did.

Me’n ol’ Blue’d gone back to the north forty to get us a Christmas tree. Pa’d planted bout a hundred trees what the conservation folks had given away about ten years before he died. He did. Over the years we’d gotten all our trees from that there stand of Fraser Firs. We did. Most of them were so big now I were just cuttin’ the upper parts for my tree. Then I’d go back in the spring an’ hitch the tractor to the roots an’ pull out the stump. I would

I’d let the town folks at Hickory Ridge have a big tree for the town square for the past few years. I did. I were hopin’ to replant them trees just so the deer would have a place to bed down. I were. I reckon I’d have to see Bailey Lawson who were the extension agent an’ see iffen I could get some more. I would. Course, come July I’d have to go back an’ trim ‘em up so they’d look good to cut. I would.

As that ol’ tractor’s gears groaned against the weight, ol’ Blue were runnin’ here an’ there tryin’ to pick up a rabbit or maybe a deer scent. When he found one he’d let out that big ol’ howl of his’n to let anyone what cared know that he’d been successful. He did.

Bumpin’ along the lane I got me to thinkin’ about Christmas an’ all. I did. It were just the best time of the year for ma. It were. We didn’t have much, but ma always found some way to make it seem like a royal feast. She did. Lookin’ back I reckon she squirreled away money little by little all year long just for Christmas. She did. An I reckon her love for it were equally divided between her love for the Lord and me’n pa. I do. The very idea that the Lord would come to us as a little baby, growin’ up just like any other little boy never ceased to excite ma. It didn’t. An’ come Christmas she were all smiles as she talked about the birth of Jesus. She were.

I remembered the time when Stanley Watts came as the preacher at the church. It were when I were about seven or eight years old. Stanley weren’t with us very long. I reckon part of the reason were his attitude, which some folks called narrow minded. Fact is, Lindy Adkins once told ma Stanley were so narrow minded iffen he were a woman one earring woulda suited him fine. She did.

Stanley were all about keepin’ the rules an’ not doin’ anything what God hadn’t commanded. He were. The only Christmas I remember him bein’ around, he had this here sermon about how Christmas was based on a pagan holiday an’ how Christians had to “come out from among them pagans an’ their ways.” He did. He said there weren’t no place in the Bible what authorized havin’ no birthday party for Jesus. He did. He said iffen Jesus wanted us to have a special time to remember his birthday he’d a told us. He did. He also said that December 25 were nowheres near the time Jesus were born, an’ it were a pagan day too. He did. So as far as he were concerned the true Christian wouldn’t even put up no Christmas tree cause not only did it represent paganism, but iffen anyone drove by an’ saw it in the winder, they might do the same thing an’ maybe lose their soul to an eternal hell. He did.

I remember tellin’ ma that Donny Kirk were one of them Jehovah’s Witnesses an’ he didn’t believe in Christmas neither. So I reckoned Preacher Stanley were just like Donny. I did. Ma smiled an’ said she didn’t reckon they were, but she didn’t say why. She didn’t.

After Stanley’s sermon I were a tad troubled. I knowed how much ma loved the Lord an’ Christmas, so while she were cookin’ Sunday lunch that day I asked her about what Stanley said. I did.

She looked at me with that smile that told me she were about to take my face in her hands an’ hug me. Which is what she did. Then she told me she weren’t one to have roast preacher on Sunday, an’ how she were hopin’ Stanley would somehow catch the real meanin’ of the Lord bein’ born an’ all. She did.

She checked on the chicken in the oven an’ sat me down at the kitchen table. She did. Then she sat down an’ said, “Benny, there are rules an’ then there is the spirit of the rules. When your pa an’ me tell you what we expect of you, we leave it up to you to decide how to do those things. In other words, we want you to understand why we want you to do them. I reckon that’s what you’d call the spirit of doin’ what we ask. Just doin’ it without knowin’ why gets it done, but it don’t help you to become a good boy. Do you understand?”

I asked her iffen it were like the time she wanted me to try to like Mandy Green. Mandy were a girl at school what bothered me all the time. She did. Well, one day I saw Jeffery Stowers hit Mandy an’ knock her down. I did. She were cryin’ an’ I gotta holda Jeffery an’ told him to help her up an’ tell her he were sorry. I did. He knowed better’n to mess with me an’ he did what I told him. He did. Mandy kept right on bother’n me, but I felt good being able to help her. I did.

Ma said it were somethin’ like that. She did. Then she said, “Benny, remember all the times you’ve taken your pocket knife an cut one of my flowers an’ brought it to me an’ told me you loved me? It weren’t even no special day, cept you made it special for me. Benny, I didn’t tell you to do that, did I?. An’ I didn’t tell you those were already my flowers anyway, did I?” I told her I reckoned she hadn’t. “Well Benny, I reckon the Lord knows I know December 25 ain’t his birthday, an’ that he ain’t asked for me to remember it. But I reckon since he loves me more’n I love you, he won’t be upset with me bringin’ him some flowers outta his garden even iffen he didn’t tell me to. An’ that’s why I love Christmas so much. It gives me the chance to show my love for him comin’. It Does.”

I wished ma were here to decorate the tree, cause every time she did it were like she were givin’ the Lord some flowers outta his garden. It were. An’ I reckon he loved it just the way she loved mine. I do.

CONCERNS: Mary Smith had a set back but is slowly improving. Jim had cataract surgery last week. T. J. And Judy Hall’s neighbor (cancer). Joanne Elder and Erma Williams are still job hunting. Joni Beach’s mother (cancer). Connie Crites father, Zona Fisher’s niece, Mike Breeding, Helen Nicklas. The Bolin’s friend, Trisha. Roger Fisher’s nephew (cancer). Wilma and Jenni Cullum, Barbara McCauley, Tim Elder and the people at Health Talents Int, Bread For A Hungry World and the work of recovery in Haiti. Also, remember those who were displaced when Polly Altice’s house burned.

Monday: Matthew 22:23-40
Tuesday: John 2:13-25
Wednesday: Proverbs 3:1-18
Thursday: Jonah 2:1-10
Friday: Matthew 23:23-39
Saturday: Psalm 127:1-5

Monday: Isaiah 6:1-13
Tuesday: Matthew 13:1-23
Wednesday: John 6:1-15
Thursday: Luke 15:11-32
Friday: Genesis 39:1-23
Saturday Psalm 66:1-20

Once again we enjoyed the Christmas Party and the good fun and fellowship. The meal was wonderful and a special thanks to our own Chef Jeff Bland for getting the meat and fixing it to perfection! Also thanks to all who brought all the other goodies that made for a great evening.

Another big thanks to Erma Williams and Judy McWhorter for decorating. Erma and Garrett Lee brought the tree over and after it was set up, fluffed out the branches. Erma worked many hours bringing the final touches and Judy gave it her own touch with the table settings. Thanks to everyone who participated it was a wonderful evening.

The funds collected for the health and rebuilding of Haiti were sent to two different places. Half was sent to Helping Hands Int. They are digging wells so good water can be had to contain the cholera epidemic. The other half went to the Southwest Church of Christ in Ada, OK to help with rebuilding houses. Thanks for you help.

Thanks to Erma and the rest of the youth teachers for arraigning the trips to see the latest Narnia movie and the Christmas tree exhibit at the Hotel Roanoke Convention Center, and of course, the lunches before the trips.

Judy Hall is asking those of you who knitted scarves last year to do it again. In case you haven’t started and you can help, she is furnishing all the material. Once they are finished they will be given to those school children in the Roanoke area who need them.

As announced last Sunday, we will soon be taking clothing (shirts, jeans, Men’s underwear size 32-36) to the Samaritan Inn. They clothe those who spend much of their time on the street. These should not be new items due to the sad fact that they can be beaten up and taken from them. Shoes, belts, socks (the socks can be new) of all sizes can also be used. Check your closets and see if there’s anything you can give there folks.

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