Pastor Henry's Memo

November 2019

A Barrel of Walnuts

Some years ago, on a lovely Fall afternoon, a mother of four boys was at her wits end.  They were being rambunctious, if you know what I mean.  Finally she had an idea.  There were several walnut trees in her yard and she had a trash barrel sitting empty next to the garage.  She went outside and stood looking at it for some time when one of her sons asked her what she was doing.  She told him she just wondered how many walnuts it would take to fill that barrel.  She'd make cookies for the first boy who could provide the answer.  Well, four brothers went at it with abandon.  Rakes and shovels were employed.  A red wagon was used to carry walnuts from the distant reaches of the property.  Across the yard walnuts were collected and deposited in the trash barrel.  Some three hours later four triumphant boys appeared in the kitchen to announce the barrel was full.  Mom went to outside to inspect their accomplishment.  Indeed, the barrel was full.  And then she asked that fateful question: How many walnuts were in the barrel?  Four boys looked at each other and realized they had forgotten to count the nuts.  They had no idea.  The deal was tell Mom how many would fill the barrel and cookies would be the reward.  But Mom had another idea.  She said each of them could have one cookie now and after the nuts were counted there would be a few more given to them.  Out they ran and after a bit of time a number was determined, reported, and cookies were enjoyed by four brothers.  And Mom, she just smiled and noticed how nice the yard looked. 

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The End-Of-The-Year-Season!

Wall-to-wall Christmas music has been available on several radio stations now for several weeks.  And it isn't yet Thanksgiving.  Christmas advertising is no longer relegated to the days after Thanksgiving.  Hasn't been for years.  What is now known as Black Friday (not the Friday in Holy Week) is no longer the kick off day for shopping.  By that Friday, the buying has already kicked into high gear.  Alas, the good-old-days are behind us.  New and intriguing days are being lived out.  Thirty years from now, these will be the good-old-days.  Some late middle-aged curmudgeon will lament shopping practices and radio play lists and how sad it all is.  But not me!   By then I'll be so old every day will be like Thanksgiving and Christmas wrapped up as one.  Let there be a turkey in every pot and tinsel on any tree.  This is a wonderful season of anticipation and we should rejoice it's ours to enjoy.  Making plans to visit loved ones and feast on the bounty of the earth are joys all of us should relish.  And there are far too many of our fellow human beings who will not partake as sumptuously as do we.  And that should give us pause.  The end-of-year-season is upon us and we will live through it one way or another.  Remember the less fortunate.  Say a prayer for someone in need.  Make a donation to a favorite mission or food pantry.  Wrap a gift for a lonely child.  Share a smile.  Mean it with all your heart every time you say Happy Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas.  Who knows, thirty years from now, pray God, those words might still be music to our ears and nourishment for our souls.

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The Berlin Wall

The Berlin Wall came tumbling down on the 9th of November 1989.  It divided a city and a nation and even a world for just 28 years.  I can't think of a more cynical and insidious object of derision.  It wasn't built to protect.  I was built to keep people imprisoned.  It was built to punish.  It was built by a party who thought ideas could be chained and stomped down.  It was a failure.  It remains a symbol of the indomitable spirit of free people.  The bits and pieces of The Wall that are scattered across the globe bear witness to the resilience of persons who can be thwarted in their desire for liberty for a season, but cannot forever be defeated.  These words of President Ronald Reagan ring with clarity across the world: "Mr. Gorbachev: Tear down this wall!"  More than that, they will echo across history and will be for a very, very long time the challenge to any party or city or nation that believes free people will just lie down before tyrants.  Let there be peace in Berlin and Germany and across Europe and the world this day and forever. 


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We come to November and the realization time has hurried past us once again. Thanksgiving is just around the corner and Christmas isn't far behind.  Yes, the holiday music has already begun to sound in our ears at shopping malls and restaurants and television advertisements.  Lifetime and the Hallmark channels prep us for the seasons of giving thanks and presents with movies suitable for all ages.  Time has a way of passing without much notice.  We know it's happening.  Each day is a gift to us and every one graced with blessings.  More often than not we live in and through them without much thought.  Unless, of course, we are caught up in a particular life event that requires notice; a death or a birth or an anniversary. Winning the World Series was almost one of my "caught-up-in-a particular-life-event" that didn't happen.  The Houston Astros lost out to the Washington Nationals, much to my chagrin (from the French meaning "rough skin.")  It has come to mean "intense sadness."  Oh, well.  November brings to our family two birthdays worth notice: our grandson Jack and my sister Joyce.  He's two on the 11th.  She will be considerably older on the 14th.  Time for both of them (and all of us) will march on and bring blessing and burden alike and, Lord, I pray, the wisdom to know how to receive them both.  For such is the way of life in every generation.  Perhaps the coming days and weeks will bring with them more occasion to rejoice and less to chagrin. 

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