Sunday, November 14, 2010

Faith Works 11-20

Faith Works 11-20-10

Jeff Gill

Another Thanksgiving Week, With Pie


Tomorrow night I have the pleasure of preaching the message for the
Granville community Thanksgiving worship, at 7:00 pm Sunday night in
First Baptist Church.

Ecumenical Thanksgiving services are often the first, and for many
the only ecumenical activity people have participated in. In the
1950s they were (I'm told) vaguely exciting in their exoticism, a
worship service where multiple denominational traditions came
together and did something as one.

Today we have Habitat for Humanity, the Jail Ministry, and the
Coalition of Care to mention just a few. Churches and denominations
work together on a variety of fronts, a good thing indeed.

There's still a very important place for each of us to affirm our
uniquenesses, even when that might infer that other groups are, um,
wrong. Politely stated, our civil society has plenty of space in
which we can disagree and dispute our essentials and fundamentals,
while maintaining a civic common ground where work can be shared.

The largely uncommitted world (keep in mind close to 80% of Licking
Countians attend nowhere for corporate worship, or no more than once
a year, if that, so there's plenty in this category) is curious as to
why we Sunday-time or Saturday or Friday worshipers do what we do,
and place our values where we do.

Community and communal worship, let alone projects, show a watching
world where our priorities play out. Competition, as the business
world understands it, is not really what we're about. We're not here
to sell the same product at a better price or from a more convenient
location, we're here to tell you that what you want is pie, home
made, and not a pre-packaged snack cake.

The challenge in this market driven age is that a cheap and
convenient snack cake, or processed food item close at hand with a
quick buzz, may well "do better" in a dollars and sense sort of way
than a recipe for rolling out the dough and mixing up your own
pumpkin filling. We all use canned filling these days, even when we
make our own pie, and home made pie is getting harder to find.

Churches, even ones I don't always think are on the right set of
recipe cards, are trying to show people how to make pie. In one
sense, that's always going to be a hard sell. Making a pie is work,
buying a box o' Dingolingos not so much.

What goes beyond sales is the experience of happening onto a table in
a place where you get served a bite of home made pumpkin pie after
long weeks of plastic wrapped "treats." You eat a bite, and then
another, and have a second piece, and you realize you want more of
where that came from. And all that comes with it.

Community Thanksgiving services are a chance for many of us in a
variety of locations to serve up some pie. It might be mince, or
cherry, or pumpkin, and it could come with a side of vanilla ice
cream or whipped cream or even, God help us, a squirt from a can.
Whether it's served on good china, household plates, or disposable,
the heart of the matter is whether we're serving our communities from
the heart, out of who we are.

When we're serving from the heart, you can taste it. It might be the
nutmeg, I'm not sure.

Consider attending your local Thanksgiving service, and invite
someone to go with you. There's going to be pie enough to go 'round.

Jeff Gill is a writer, storyteller, and supply preacher around
central Ohio; he likes pie. Making it, eating it, doesn't matter.
Send him your pie recipe at

Knapsack 11-18

Notes From My Knapsack -- Granville Sentinel 11-18

Jeff Gill

[This is third in a series of stories called "Twelve Years Old in
Granville," each set in a particular year from the perspective of a
twelve year old, based on our local history with a bit of literary
license to help the narrative along.]


When the three of them had decided to head home after a long morning
of fishing in Raccoon Creek, two went up to the town spring on the
back side of Sugar Loaf, and one took off across the lower slope to
cut up through the Burying Ground.

There was a creek that looped behind the tombstones, and he hoped to
mess around a bit there rather than end up stuck inside churning
butter until his arms ached. His older sister was spinning yarn off
their neighbor's sheep, and Uncle Frank was sure to have brought by a
crock or two of rich fresh cream and a jug of milk as he passed
through town from grandfather's farm on Loudon Street down towards
the woolen mill at the end of Clouse's lane. Any pair of hands that
passed the kitchen door were likely to end up wrapped around a churn
handle, and he didn't want those to be his.

So he swung around the wall and up angling through the cemetery,
until he saw someone sitting at the base of a young, but fast growing
oak tree just at the crest of the slope.

"Good day, sir," the boy said, touching the brim of his straw hat.

"Good day to you, young sir," answered the man, who was anything but
young himself.

"Are you well, sir?" asked the youth.

"It is kind of you to ask. My soul is well, my heart is heavy, and
the years weigh me down, but it is all to the good."

At twelve, he didn't quite know how to answer that, but a thought did
occur to him.

"Are you Mister Benjamin? They say you are a hundred years old."

"That I am, all of that and a year more. How old are you?"

"I am just twelve years old, myself."

"Do you know, when I was not much older than you, I was fighting
alongside the British in the French and Indian War?"

"That I had heard, sir, and that you were in the Continental Army
during the Revolution?"

"As a sergeant, indeed I was. And then a pioneer, and now an old man
sitting under a tree."

His new friend considered this, and felt secure enough in the
confidence shown him to say "Most people say you keep to yourself out
at your place on Ramp Creek and talk to no one."

The weathered face creased with a small but distinct smile, and he
replied "But I am speaking to you, am I not?"

"Yes, sir."

"I speak when something needs to be said. There is much said in this
world that could easily be done without. And I come here to talk to
my wife, Margaret," he said gesturing to a stone rising out of the
grass just beyond the old man's feet, "and my daughters," pointing
both up and down the hill in turn.

"I didn't mean to interrupt you, sir," nodded the young man. "Not at
all," was the ancient's reply; "you may sit down and join me." As he
did so, Benjamin added, "You're sitting on my grave."

Since his own elderly relatives often spoke this way, he merely
nodded, and went on to ask if Mr. Benjamin had ever seen George
Washington. They sat and talked until long after the last of the
butter had been drawn from the churn.

[Jonathan Benjamin died at 103 on Aug. 26, 1841, the oldest person in
the Old Colony Burying Ground; he and his wife Margaret were married
67 years.]

Jeff Gill is a writer, storyteller, and supply preacher around
central Ohio; tell him a story at