Supreme Ambition Ministries

To Know Christ and to Make Him Known – Philippians 3:10

NINE MILE: A MICROCOSM OF CHURCH

NINE MILE: A MICROSOM OF CHURCH

 

I am a part of a clan of Scottish decent known as Lewis. We are a proud lot, perhaps too proud sometimes.  However, even though I am nearing retirement, memories of my mother’s family flood my mind with a sense of well-being and gratitude for the good things that I inherited from being part Lewis.

 

Recently, I have been made aware that the Land upon which my mother’s parents forged a life for themselves and their children has been sold.  Many of my cousins are hurt and saddened by the loss of the land.  So am I.  Some feel the loss that their own children will never be able to run, work and play in the creek and hillsides, smell the fragrances of the spring flowers and freshly cut hay, even as we did as children.  Many emotions flood my own soul, even as I pen these words.  In my musings of days gone by, I have a lingering memory of one annual event that left a lasting impression upon me.  Furthermore, God has used that memory to give hope to me about something that has been lost in much of the church for 1700 years . . . Fellowship!

When considering the fellowship of the Church of Jesus Christ one must be careful to not be mistakenly looking for a utopian society; one which is devoid of problems. This is not the Church, at least not this side heaven. Rather, the Church is to be a society lived “in the world and yet not a part of it.” While I would be careful to press an unrealistic concept of Christianity too far, I can definitely relate with those who find a societal image that so captures their attention that everything else pales in comparison, and to which one’s life can be given, unashamedly, and uncompromisingly. Such is my quest for true fellowship in the Church.

As I look back over my life I am made aware that I was placed in varied atmospheres from time to time, which gave hints to the meaning of fellowship. One such realm was at the annual Christmas Eve celebration held by my mother’s family. Both my parents came from rather large families by today’s standards, and, due to the rural nature and economic conditions of the times my mother and her siblings formed a rather close bond with one another. Couple this with a basic Christian world view and the fact that all these siblings raised their families near one another and it is not difficult to see how a virtually spiritual relationship was forged within a biological unit. This was never more evident than when all these families came together for the annual Christmas Eve celebration.  This was a rather informal gathering in an old shanty-like house up the old Nine Mile Creek Road in the hills of West Virginia not far from a little town called Point Pleasant. My! What a time we had! The cousins played, making up games as we went. Some looked at pictures of far away places through the “view-finder”. Others shared war stories, or played Chinese checkers, while still others told the latest funny story. My grandparents little house was literally dancing with activity. The aroma of roasted turkey and country ham was married to the titillating smells of fresh baked pies and cakes. The women and older girls were in the kitchen and dinning room getting everything ready for one of the finest meals anyone ever had. Yes Sir! The old house was alive with all the sounds and smells that evoked a warmth and security that only enhanced the smell of wood and coal burning in the fireplace and the old pot-bellied stove.

Sometime during the evening Grandpa, who was a very educated but simple man, would pick up his tuning fork and a hymnbook and begin to sing a Christmas carol. We all joined in. Then the evening seemed to flow like an orchestra with the Conductor being that unseen Guest. No sooner had one song ended than another began. Interspersed between them, we children stood and said the “Christmas pieces” we had learned for our church programs, as well as poems by noted authors such as Edgar Allen Poe, and James Whitcomb Riley. Then, right on cue, the Divine Conductor seemed to stir Grandpa to pick up his Bible and give it to his oldest Son, Milton, who read Luke’s account of the birth of Christ. Maybe it was my age, or maybe it was because it was Christmas, I’m not sure. All I know is that when he read from the Bible on Christmas Eve the words seemed to dance within my head with life. Afterward, we gave the gifts we had gotten for the one in the family whose name we had drawn some weeks earlier. All too soon the evening was over, but I was left with precious, lingering, memories, and a longing to repeat that evening, or something akin to it, as soon as possible. Now, years later, and with over forty years in the ministry, when I think about what true fellowship in the Church should be, it is the memory of those Christmas Eves that floods my mind. You see, Christmas Eve with my mother’s family became for me a microcosm of the way things ought to be. It may even have been a hint from the Lord Himself as to the only effective way to live the Christian life and to do Church. Yes, this family Christmas gathering so many years ago became the seed of a search that was to fuel the fires of my ministry.

I join my cousins and our friends in the little community of Beech Hill, West Virginia in grieving the loss of something special, but from now and throughout all eternity each time I see their names, their faces, or hear their voices, I will smell the aroma of what God might call FELLOWSHIP.

March 28th, 2012 Posted by | Biographical, Church, Fellowship, True Church LIfe, Uncategorized | 8 comments

8 Responses to “NINE MILE: A MICROCOSM OF CHURCH”

  1. Dave,
    Thanks for all that you said about our family. When you spoke of the warmth and security of the family something within me welled up into my heart and I would not give up that feeling for the world. I think the Fellowship that was is gone and to try to recapture it may be futile. My own children barely really know their own first cousins and I doubt seriously that they even know you as a relative.
    The days you spoke about were truly a gift and I will treasure them until my last breath. I’m only sorry that every family doesn’t have what we had. I can’t blame you for trying to recapture it in some way. Thank you again for the memories.

  2. Jean, I appreciated so much your heartfelt response. Blessings to you and Bill.

  3. Dave, you have stirred some very precious memories in my heart today. Though my youth was not spent in West Virginia and I never had the fellowship of the Lewis family and Beech Hill until after I was married, those memories are some of the most precious in my life. I’m glad my children got to experience that environment and witness the fellowship that existed there. I miss it. You and all of the Lewis family and Beech Hill folks were and are very dear to me.
    Love always,
    Mary Lou

  4. Thanks Mary Lou. You were a great part of those days. They are precious to me as well.

  5. These memories are so sharp for you and you describe them so vividly. I have similar Christmas memories from the some of the same people, but in a later time, at different locations. It feels like you pulled back the curtain a little bit to see how it motivated your life’s trajectory and how it still stirs and affects you. thanks for opening your heart to share.

  6. That was a wonderful story and I so enjoyed reading it! Brought back great memories of my own Christmas Eve family celebrations. Thanks for the trip down memory lane.

  7. Dave,
    It is so special to know that someone else cherishes the same memories and feelings, that I do. As I grown older, I realize the influence given me by my family. I can say ,I heard my Great Grandparents and Grandparents pray and read scripture. What a legacy ! You bet that influenced me.I am proud to say that Jesus Christ knows my name and I am apart of his family. It is my hope, that my family will look back and say, ” she stood firm for what she believed ( Jesus Christ )and shared His love with others.
    I believe that those things bringing us to the realization of Jesus Christ will be in Heaven with us. It would bring me great joy to find an area in Heaven called Beech Hill.

  8. June, I feel that same fellowship. I John 1:3 says, “Our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son, Jesus Christ. I believe in heaven our fellowship will be even greater. Difficult to imagine though. Thanks so much for sharing.