Tonight’s Feature Image is Virginia’s Chapel in Cedar Grove West Virginia. The link will take you to the Wikipedia article. The article is short but states that the Church (also known as the Little Brick Church) was built in 1853 and used by both sides of the Civil War And that’s in the national registry of historic places. But, is that all that history is? A few facts and dates can’t tell the whole story. I often pass through when a wedding is taking place and the Little Brick Church is all decorated. I see friends and family gathering on the walkway and occasionally see someone taking care of the cemetery on the other side of the chain link fences. I have to wonder about the memories that were made here when the lot was more open and cemetery less full. Back in days when the roads were not paved. I imagine that the fields were open and picturesque. The church was full of live music and joyful noise. I imagine that a few sour notes were sung as the rest of congregation gave each other “that look” and continued to worship God in earnest.
The church wasn’t fully completed until 1912. A full generation after the Civil War. I don’t think that was a coincidence. It could only be completed those who had put away their harsh feelings about the past and fully committed themselves to becoming one family. And that brings me to main thought for tonight. If we want to complete the work set before us then we have to put aside the outside world and come together as one people. I’m speaking mostly to my brothers and sisters in Christ but this concept goes for secular organizations as well. Time on this earth is finite. Effective time is in even shorter supply. Don’t waste a second of it. Find some middle ground and complete the tasks at hand.
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One of the things that I love most about my home in the mountains is all the little churches. The steeples just seem to pop up above the canopy like friendly wave of hello. I remember as a kid that one of the most important jobs in the congregation was to be responsible for ringing the bell. The call to worship had to be given at about an hour or so prior to the start of service and then again when it was time to get started. On a good day we could hear the bell ring from miles away. Soon there was a parade of cars moving on the one lane road. You had to there early so you could get a good seat and a place to park. The funny thing is that everyone occupied the same seat and parking spot every Sunday. And, if one of the kids sat in a different place an adult would quickly remind them of the unwritten rules about where to sit. “Hey, that’s where so-and-so sits.” We would have to move around until we finally wound up in the same spot we sat in last week. At the end of service was another unwritten ritual. The shaking of hands. In a small country church the Right Hand Of Fellowship is a common practice. But young boys are mischievous by nature and quick to adapt a custom to their own uses. As soon as the service closed there was a race to the door where The Right Hand Of Fellowship was changed into the Running Of The Gauntlet. The boys would line the exit and extend their shaking hand to anyone trying to leave. The adults would then be obliged to accept the handshakes before they could exit thus creating a bottleneck at the door. I think that final joke was on us boys because we grew up to be the adults caught in the bottleneck later in life. I have to smile and and get warm fuzzies every time I see the steeples poking up from the trees. It always brings back childhood memories of the little churches and the extended family who attended them.
It’s in those moments of peaceful contemplation that you really get to know the voices the speak to your spirit. We all have theses inner voices that speak to us throughout the day. The voice that tells you that you have chores to do, the voice that talks you out of doing those chores. There’s a voice of confidence. ( Be careful about this one because he can get you into trouble. ) There’s the voice of doubt. ( Also not to be fully trusted. )
I suppose that if we were to take inventory of all these inner voices that the list could be quite long. But the one I want to focus on is the quiet one. The voice doesn’t speak often. He patiently waits for an opportunity to make his point. The quiet one doesn’t compete with the other voices. He doesn’t have to. He doesn’t argue or complain. The quiet one is logical and honest without being judgemental. The quiet one is the voice of Truth. He’s that Still, Small Voice. He is the voice of God. One of my atheist friends once expressed concern ( while smirking) about people who think God speaks to them. My only answer there is that God speaks to everyone, it’s just that not everyone listens. As I said, He doesn’t compete with the other voices. He simply waits to be heard. This why in a lot of my writings I like to focus on the opportunity to sit in quiet and peaceful places. It’s why I strive to push back the world with its ads and loud voices that attempt to dominate your every thought. Because when that Voice Of Truth speaks I don’t want to miss out on what was said. His words are life that added to my day.
Nestled all throughout the Appalachian Mountains are little churches of all denominations. Regardless of the denomination I’ve always preferred the smaller country churches. Perhaps it’s because I’m uncomfortable with large crowds. I feel more freedom in a smaller venue. It shouldn’t matter because it’s the same Jesus in all churches. But Holy Spirit moves on the willing. When a person feels uncomfortable they just seem to close off. It’s not that God can’t reach them or that they are somehow more unworthy than the rest of us. They just become unwilling. Isn’t that what Christ is seeking in the first place? He didn’t come to collect the perfect or the ultra talented. He came to seek out the lost who are willing to follow. We as Christians seem to always be focused on becoming more perfect but I think that we should be more willing and Jesus Christ will do the rest.
As a child I used dream that I could fly. The dreams were always very vivid. I could feel the inertia as I banked through the clouds. Every time I stand by this spot between two skies I’m taken back to those dreams and I know that one day I’ll hear a trumpet summoning me to “come up hither” and in the twinkle of an eye I’ll be soaring between two skies.