Oh my. My, my. We had the sweetest Homecoming at our church this past weekend. Bill and I have only been members at that ‘little white church in a dell’ over in Sharpsburg, Georgia, for about four years, but, I believe, we enjoyed the two-day affair almost as much as those who grew up in the shadow of its little steeple.
Actually I can only imagine being raised, baptized, married, and in turn, raising one’s own children among the same good people. It must be wonderful. The Thomas family, who helped with the event, and who brought history alive through their many, many photographs and mementos, shared their lovely story from the podium while their grandchildren sat in the pews among friends whose own children and grandchildren were in attendance. The Deloaches, relatively new to this church that celebrated its 180th Anniversary this year, told an overflowing Sanctuary of members and guests their story. A story of their four beautiful daughters who over the last ten years have each found a place to grow and to be loved. The grandparents of the girls followed and joined the congregation, becoming a blessing to the membership.
There was hardly a dry eye in the church as special speaker and Pastor Emeritus Dr. Watson E. Mills told the story of those “giants whose shoulders made the present and the future possible,” and the story of little Hattie Mae Wiatt whose contribution of 57 cents grew, with the generosity of others memorializing and imitating her gift, to become the great Liberty University in Philadelphia.
Did we not learn from our mothers, our fathers, and teachers the simple rule for living a good and decent life? “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” The Golden Rule. Of course we did, and at the same time we learned what employers are today calling “Soft Skills.” How to be polite, cheerful, helpful, courteous, prompt, and punctual. Try getting and keeping a good job without those. We also learned skills from our Friend, Jesus. How to care for the wounded, the poor, the widow, the orphan, and how to love one another as we have been loved.
Bill and I saw the fruits of those lessons in the people who came together this past Saturday and Sunday at Sharpsburg Baptist Church. We saw the delight in them in becoming reacquainted, the fun in being together for softball, for a picnic, worshiping with music and song, sharing pot luck; the love emanating from that crowd was like that of the warm quilts which families brought to show and share and hang over the pews of their beloved church; the quilts that were the theme for the weekend affair.
“Our lives are pieced together, stitched with smiles and tears,
Colored with memories and bound by Love.
We are backed by traditions and embellished with
Family and Friends.
Like a quilt, we are made of imperfect pieces,
Lovingly fitted together by the
To form a Beautiful Pattern.”
That, gentle readers, is Joy. That, dear friends, is Love.
And that is what the world needs now, “Love, sweet love!” Remember the Jackie DeShannon song? “It’s the only thing that’s there’s just too little of,” and “No, not just for some, but for everyone.” Pretty hokey, huh. Well, let me tell you something, I love hokey.
I am so saddened by the horror, the fear, the ugliness, and the hate that is holding our world and so many of its people hostage. The hate that has translated into unbelievable statistics of murders in the streets of America’s largest cities, but also the hate that has crept into our towns and near neighborhoods. I dread hearing the news, for it is only the bad news that reaches the front pages; the headlines scream of the treachery and travesty that our government must deal with daily, of the injustice, lies and most frightening, of the wars. Wars on drugs, on homelessness, against other countries, and within our legislative bodies!
That song by DeShannon was recorded in 1965, another era that was fraught with problems similar to those we face today. And “what the world needs now” is the same: Love Sweet Love! Amen.