Roanoke Church of Christ



by my friend, Ben
Hickory Ridge were one of them places what were kinda frozen in time. It were. Beins that it were a good seventy miles from any city what could be called big, it were kinda a place all to its own. It were.

Now that don’t mean folks here ‘n about didn’t know what were goin’ on in the world, cause they did. What folks didn’t have one of them satellite dishes had cable from Arley Jones. They did. Arley put one of them big dishes up on top the hill behind his place. He called it Hickory Cable Company. An’ he serviced most of Hickory Ridge and the outskirts. He did.

I reckon it were the mountains what folks had to cross t’ get to Hickory Ridge what kept the place perty much the same year after year. It did. An’ for most folks around here I reckon that were fine with them. It were.

The timea year Hickory Ridge always looked the same were at Christmas. It did. About the only change were that the big ol’ spruce tree in the town square were taller an’ needed more Christmas lights. It did. Other than that, it were the same manger scene with them statues of Mary an’ Joseph along with baby Jesus. An the same loud speaker were sendin’ out the same Christmas carols. It were.

One year the town council decided to make the nativity scene live, with real folks an’ animals an’ all. They did. Well, I reckon it mighta worked, ceptin’ the animals didn’t want to help out. They didn’t. It were quite a sight watchin’ Orley Baxter tryin’ to round up his three sheep, when George Trotters two cows got spooked an’ started runnin’ down Main Street. It were. After that, the town council decided to stick with what had been part of Hickory Ridge for about as long as anybody could remember. They did. I reckon they figgered havin’ Randy Ashburn repaint them statues every three or four years were a sight easier than Hickory Ridge’s one policeman tryin’ to round up critters runnin’ down Main Street. I do.

I got me to thinkin’ about all that as me’n ol’ Blue come swingin’ around the town square in my ol’ truck. I did. There it were, that big ol’ spruce tree all decorated an’ the manger scene with them statues. The actual lighting of the tree were still a few days away. It were. But it were all decked out an’ ready for the ceremony. It were.

It looked as iffen it were gonna be right warm for the lightin’ this year. I reckon that’s both good an’ bad. More folks will come iffen it’s warm, but there’s somethin’ about the cold air nippin’ at your nose an’ snowa fallin’.

Thinkin’ about that took me back to a time when Ma taught me the real meanin’ of Christmas. She did. There were a Jewish family what had moved just outside Hickory Ridge. I remember their name were Cohen, It were. Most folks back then just called them “the Jews”. But Ma called them the “Jewish folks” or the “Cohens.” She did.

Most folks wondered why they decided to move to Morgan County.They farmed the ol’ Hanks’ place. They did. Ed Chambers said they were raisin’ what he called “kosher” food an’ beef, for folks up east somewhere. He did. He said when he delivered grain to their place the barn were almost clean enough to eat offen the floor. He did.

Well, to most folks they were still Jews, an that made ‘em different somehow. It did. I heard Johnny Paul Peterson say the Jews killed Jesus. He did. An’ in the schoolyard he said that right to Jacob Cohen’s face. He did. Now I liked Jacob. He were real polite an’ seemed to know a lot of stuff. He did. So I told Johnny Paul I knowed his granpa were form Germany, but that didn’t make him like that there Hitler feller. It didn’t. Well, even at that it were still perty hard on Jacob an’ his little sister, Hannah, since they were Jews an’ all.

I asked Ma what made Jews different. I did. She said, “Benny, the Jewish folks are still lookin’ for the Savior. From what they see in Jesus, he don’t meet their requirements.” I asked iffen that were why Jacob an’ Hannah were excused by Mrs Thomas from goin’ to the Christmas program at school. Ma said that Mrs. Thomas were a nice, caring, teacher an’ she reckoned she didn’t want the Cohen kids to feel they had to attend a program against their belief. I later heard Mrs Thomas had some folks say she’d done wrong, but Ma agreed she done what were right. She did.

That first Christmas the Cohen’s were livin’ near Hickory Ridge, Pa drove me’n Ma to town for the Christmas tree lighten’. He did. Now Pa weren’t real religious, but there were something’ about Christmas he liked. He did. I reckon it were because folks seemed to put on their best side during’ the holidays. They did. An Pa loved Ma’s fruitcake what had been soaking’ in wine most the year. He did.

Well, that Christmas it were one of them picture perfect Christmas seasons. The snow were about six inches deep, which were just enough to cover everything, but not too deep to keep folks offen the plowed roads. It didn’t.

We found us a place where we could see all the festivities. We did. Ma had a thermos of coffee, an another one filled with her special hot chocolate. She did.

All the stores on Main Street were all lit up an’ open for business in preparation for the tree lighten’. They were. That’s when Ma saw the Cohens comin’ outta Ed Chambers’ feed store. She did. She told Pa to save our seats an’ she took me by the hand an’ we went into to Sally’s Bakery. We did. She bought two coffee cakes an’ dozen doughnuts. She did. Then she found the Cohens an’ handed them the bag of baked goods. She did. I could see the surprise on their faces when she said, “Merry Christmas!” Mr. Cohen said softly, “We don’t believe in Christmas.” Ma smiled an’ said, “But I do.” Mr. Cohen’s eyes kinda twinkled-like an’ he said, “Happy Hanukkah!” Mrs. Cohen and the kids hugged Ma, an’ Jacob shook my hand an’ said, “Merry Christmas Ben!” He did.

CONCERNS: Connie Crites’ brother’s condition is worsening. Philip Pierce’s mother had a severe heart attack and is still in intensive care in Northern Virginia. Leena Bolin’s brother, Nick, is a little improved. It was nice to see Susan and Wayne Phlegar at church again. Rich Crites says his sister is about well enough to leave the nursing home. Teryn Gaynor’s uncles’ cancer is treatable. The following people are dealing with various health issues: Zona Fisher, Rich Crites, Gary Overstreet, Garrett Lee Williams’ friend, Hannah, Gil Richardson, Jim Hunter, Deana McRoy, Stephanie Rigney, Marge Greenwood, Regan, the ten year old who is dying from brain cancer, His grandfather, Richard, Sharon, a friend of Del Bolin’s, Helen Nicklas, Alma Martin, Jenni Cullum, Matney, Tim Elder and Mary Smith.

Monday: Psalm 46
Tuesday: John 14:1-11
Wednesday: Psalm 71:1-8
Thursday: Isaiah 26:1-4
Friday: Matthew 5:1-16
Saturday: I John 2:7-11;15-17
Monday: Exodus 3:1-15
Tuesday: Matthew 9:14-34
Wednesday: Ecclesiastes 12:1-14
Thursday: II Corinthians 5:11-21
Friday: II Samuel 11:1-27
Saturday: Psalm 121:1-8

We were excited with the announcement that Melisha Scruggs was rebaptized by Perry Hall during a visit there with Judy and T. J.. She had some questions about a former baptism and felt more secure in doing it again. We welcome her to this next step in her service to God

Once again we had a wonderful evening together at this year’s Christmas Party. Our thanks to Judy McWhorter, Erma Williams, Jeff Bland, Del Bolin and all those who helped with the tree and the other decorations, as well as all those who prepared food to accompany the main course. It was a wonderful evening even if the weather wasn’t.

Our sympathy goes out to Teryn Gaynor and her family in the sudden death of her uncle who was recovering from cancer treatment. He lived near Atlanta.

About thirty-five years ago there was a very bad blizzard crossing Kentucky and Ohio, heading toward West Virginia. The governor closed everything as a precaution. We never saw a flake of snow. Last Sunday was a little like that as we and many others canceled services due to the ice warning. Well, there was some. Better luck next time.
Wayne Flora will be presenting the budget for next year following Sunday’s sermon. Last year we were able to replace a well-worn sound system and can look forward to improving the upstairs restroom to facilitate the handicapped and others who need it. There will be no steering committee meeting. However, in the next weeks we will be reconfirming those on the committee who have served their three year term who wish to continue serving

Connie and Richard Crites have purchased a new refrigerator. The one in their new home is a side-by-side but was a little too small. As soon as we can get it to the building it will replace the one in the communion preparation room downstairs. The old one had rust issues in the door. The new one will also be able to make ice, therefore adding to our supply.

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