Submitted by Rev. Lois Barnum Phelps, Retired United Methodist Elder
“What shall I return to the Lord for all his bounty to me?” Psalm 116: 12
I am thankful for those who shaped my life when I was young. Growing up in Michigan, our farm was just across the road from our small country church. On big Sundays (like Easter) we might have up to thirty people there. Relationships were strong intergenerationally. From the time I was small I knew each person young and old, as well as the favorite hymns of each one there. Gertrude loved ‘He the Pearly Gates Will Open’. Wilma loved “When We All Get to Heaven’. My favorite was ‘What A Friend We Have in Jesus’.
We always had ‘tent-maker’ pastors – who needed to have another job to support themselves. As a result, the church was pretty much run by the laity expect for Sunday mornings. My mom and her best friend were the engine and wheels which kept that church rolling. We were not ‘high’ church. We were just a group of farm families with some great singers and a faithful few.
I remember the Easter that mom and her best friend, Margaret, decided that Margaret’s son Dennis and I should sing a song on Easter morning at church. They surprised the pastor with this news that morning. I can imagine how thrilled he must have been when they announced that Dennis and I would be singing that highly inappropriate for church song: ‘Here Comes Peter Cottontail’. Dennis and I were both very shy children – both three or four years old at the time. Mom and Margaret had shown us each a delightful toy treat – a small plastic Peter Rabbit pulling a little wagon of candy. It would be ours if we sang. We stood to sing and Dennis froze. He would not sing. I was not about to miss out on that toy – so I hauled off, slugged him in the back and shouted, ‘SING!!” He did. I did. We got the treat. Happy Easter.
Looking back, over years of such escapades. It became clear that we learned to get involved, to offer who we are where we are, to the church. From that sketchy beginning, both Dennis and I became pastors. Who’d’ve thunk? Our mothers and our church taught us well. We each are reminded in this holy season, that Jesus came to LEAD us into a life of ministry and service – not just the pastors, but each of us are called to follow.
Prayer: Lord, yours was a life of teaching, leading, healing, forgiveness, grace and sacrifice. I pray this day, that you, Jesus, would be with me in all that comes my way – in times of sadness, in times of joy. Help me know what is mine to do for the sake of your kingdom. I long to faithfully serve you. Amen.