Yesterday, our patio Upper Room Bible Study group gathered under the new colorful umbrella. The wind was getting stronger, and finally, the umbrella tilted so far that the coffee table lost the balance. The cup of coffee spilled its hot inside all over Joyce Richardson’s Bible that was opened on 1 Corinthians 12:21-25 “The parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor.”
After cleaning the table, the group continued the conversation on the importance of paying attention to those people around us who we sometimes take for granted. Karen Gibson watched the umbrella’s moves to prevent another incident. Becky Hickok said, “You don’t have to worry about the side-to-side shifts, this is when the vertical move starts taking place we need to worry.” Immediately I imagined what could cause the vertical movement of the open umbrella.
“Shhh,” Joyce stopped me. “Do not mention that word out loud.”
“Why? Will it bring the tornado?” Joyce silently nodded, and I responded with the gesture showing my decision to seal my lips.
The lesson of the day was about noticing all incredible people in our church even if they are not in active leadership. Karen Gibson invited the group to appreciate each person in our congregation and tell them that their words and even their most invisible acts of love and support make a difference.
After the study, I noticed that the sky was getting darker and darker, and the possibility of a tornado looked more real by dinner time. That made me think of Joyce’s warning and also about the day when I was driving home to the sounds of the sirens. Opening the windows, I looked up to the sky. Yep! Tornado warning–I already learned that a certain green color of the sky and the silence highlight the possibility of it. I turned on the radio and almost dropped the wheel at the sound of the voice in my car,
“If you are driving, get out of the car and find the nearest ditch. Get on the ground as low as possible, facing down, and cover your head with your hands.” I got goosebumps–what if it was the voice of God? Then, I looked around and didn’t notice a single driver leaving a car on the street and running to the road’s shoulder. Nobody paid attention! People acted like there was no warning! If I get out of the car and lie face down in the ditch, I will be dirty and look like an idiot if the tornado never strikes, I thought. If I do not get out of the car and dive into the nearest ditch, then will I be mad at myself, flying away in my car into eternity? What if it was God speaking, not the radio? What if God offers me salvation, but I ignored? Was God using Joyce to give me the message of paying attention to what I carelessly allowed to slip from my lips? Joyce’s whisper reminded me that even though God does not talk to us directly, God uses other people to give us the message. All it takes is to pay attention to what we hear and see around us.
Let’s begin with paying attention in our church. We have the whole generation of our elders who are members of Francis Street First for many decades. These women and men served in various leadership roles for many years. Because of their passion and faith, Francis Street First continues serving as a beacon of faith sending a warning to those who are in danger and lighting the way to those who are lost.
Our church is lucky to have several generations of people who worship and serve elbow to elbow. On Mother’s Day, we will welcome our new Confirmation Class into the church membership. Our youth went through a long study with Candy Sheehan and Cindy Allen. Candy made every effort to teach each teenager how to listen to the voice of God in their lives and how to pay attention to those who are around them. Several adults attended on different Sundays to pray and to share their wisdom. The new generation of believers will receive a baton from the hands of our older members. Be sure to write a few words of wisdom for each of them like you speak on behalf of God. Your words will fall into the well-prepared souls. Thank you, Candy Sheehan and Cindy Allen, for many months of your tireless and consistent labor of love raising another generation of faithful believers.