Posted tagged ‘First Baptist Church of Mason’

Christmas Off-Key

December 10, 2017

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                      December 10, 2017

                                     

Our three children still remember the car ride on Christmas Day morning. We were coming over Rosemont Hill in Portsmouth, Ohio, heading towards my parents’ house upriver in Ironton. It was pre-satellite radio, pre-CD, pre iTunes days! We had to listen to…The Radio! AM no less!

Carol found a church choir trying to sing! The song was “What Child Is This?” and one man with a rather loud voice stood out as we listened in pain. He always came in about a half note too late. One important line in the song goes “This, this is Christ the King!” This man’s first “this” straddled the end of the same word everyone else was singing, and the beginning of its repeat right after. He used it as a conjunction where there was not suppose to be one.

To this day we bring up that song and choir, and…yes…we mock the moment as we relive it and impersonate it.

Christmas is known for all of its music, Handel’s Messiah, Christmas CD’s, Christmas carolers. In the midst of all the peace-filled music there will always be some shrieks, screeches, and voices that can’t quite get to those high notes.

We still have memories of our son, David, singing with the kids of First Baptist Church in Mason, Michigan, and David covering his left ear because Luke Wandell kept singing the same note over and over again loudly to his left. Luke was totally unaware of the pain he was inflicting. It goes down in the Wolfe family humorous memories section.

The church I grew up in, First Baptist Church of Ironton, always did a Christmas Cantata. The choir practiced in preparation for it numerous evenings, but no amount of practice could cure one lady whose voice could also have been used to frighten burglars away and keep mosquitoes from nesting. We all prayed for laryngitis to afflict her, but God did not answer our prayers. We hoped there would be male solos during the cantata to give our ears time to heal before the next onslaught!

Christmas, however, was about celebration and decorations, no matter how off-key the musicians were. Having someone sing “O Holy Night” while the congregation lit candles at the Christmas Eve service…that is a tradition that still resonates in my soul. Nate and Alyssa Price playing their string instruments as Jean Price accompanied them on the piano…Wow! Singing with my two daughters and one of my son-in-laws on Christmas Eve, I’ll always cherish that!

Christmas has its off-key moments that simply sound off in between long periods of sweet harmony. The times when we look for the ear plugs are simply like receiving one of those gifts that our young child wrapped, a jumbled mass of paper with a roll of tape to hold it together. We received it, cherished it, and filed the memory of it within our minds for the rest of our life.

My Secret Santa

December 13, 2016

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                         December 13, 2016

                                           

About a week ago Mission Medical Clinic of Colorado Springs received a boxed gift in the mail from an anonymous sender. Inside was a check for $10,000 and three $50 gift cards. The clinic offers a variety of medical services for people who have limited financial resources. The $10,000 will go a long ways in helping meet needs that never seem to lessen.

The first thought of the mission’s director was that it was a scam, so she called a local TV station about it. Further investigation revealed that it was genuine…and the praises began! Another local charity also received an anonymous check.

Even though the Christmas story revolves around expectancy it brings us the unexpected. Kids squeal and giggle over the expectation of the coming of Santa Claus, but stories of secret Santa’s take our breath away and leave us open-mouthed.

I will always remember my secret Santa! He or she sent me a gift shortly before Christmas in 1984…thirty-two years ago! Carol and I were the parents of two toddlers, and I was in my first months of pastoring my first church, the First Baptist Church of Mason, Michigan. Our financial resources were minimal. Most of the toys that the kids received for Christmas that year had been bought at the yard sales of the previous summer. We didn’t have much, but we had just enough! Carol learned how to use macaroni in numerous ways, and our home was often scented with the fragrance of digested pinto beans.

And then a $50 cashier’s check arrived in the mail from “Secret Santa.” A note attached to it said, “Take this check down to Jack Davis and buy yourself a new suit!” Jack Davis was the owner of Davis’s Men’s Wear, located on the corner of Ash and Jefferson, across from the Ingham County Courthouse in downtown Mason. Although I’ve had my suspicions, to this day I do not know who the Secret Santa was. All I know is that it lifted my spirits. That was back in the day when suits were the expected Sunday attire for pastors, and my suit selection was limited. My Secret Santa saw a young pastor with a wife and two kids who needed a little help. We had so many other needs to take care of that a new suit was not even on the list.

I thought of that story recently after receiving a check in the mail from my denomination’s retirement and benefits board. It was a “thank you” check sent to all of the retired ministers and missionaries of the American Baptist Churches, expressing appreciation for our years of ministry and service. I hadn’t thought about being a recipient of it, but rather as a giver to it, and yet here, once again, was an unexpected check!

This time, however, Carol and I have enough resources to be able to pay it forward to someone else, or some other organization. Not necessarily a check for $10,000, but rather the givers of an unexpected gift in a season of expectancy.