Before The Color Fades
Each year at this time, I find a special book in our bookcase at home. It is a book with the above title. This book contains many things from days gone by that the author recalled and loved about his life in the Midwest and rural life. The author wanted to get these fond memories of his life onto paper before they faded from his and our collective memories.
There are many stories in those pages that I, too, can recall from my life experiences. There are things like remembering party lines, which allowed several people to share one single telephone exchange. One would only know when to pick up the phone if you listened carefully to the “rings.” Two longs and a short might be your ring, while two short rings then a long ring would mean the call was for your neighbor. I know it seems somewhat hard to imagine for many today, especially since most of us carry our own “private” cell phones. I wonder what our youth today would say if I told them they had to share a phone. There were times in those days that you would accidentally pick up your neighbors ring and could overhear a conversation that was not intended to be heard by you. When that did happen, one would simply say: “Oh, I am sorry. I will hang up now.” We did not concern ourselves with listening to things that were not our business. Besides, we did not have the time.
There are other stories about such things as “hog butchering day” when the whole family would gather to slaughter a hog and prepare it for keeping and hanging in an old smoke house and how efficient the family was in this process. Everyone had a job to do and together it was done with much skill and expertise, and all would spout proudly: “We are going to use everything but the squeal in processing this animal.” And indeed, they did.
The point of my article this month is for us to recall the things in life that have been special for us and are worth sharing. Each fall as we start confirmation class, I often share with the confirmation students the wonderful gift of faith that has been handed down to me through the years from my father and my grandmothers. I share with them the bibles that were handed down to me upon the death of my great grandmother. These bibles, many very tattered and torn, hold within them the message of God’s love for us in Jesus Christ. I share how very special it is for me to turn those bible pages and see the passages that were underlined by my great grandmother in a bible she was given at Christmas in 1895. I share how special it is to know that she held onto this bible and read from these pages and how it was passed on to me to hold and to study and be moved by the words therein.
So, here are the questions I raise to the confirmation students and to all of us: “Where are your family bibles?” Where and what are the messages of faith that you want to pass on to your children, your grandchildren and even the great and double great grandchildren you may never come to know? Before the color fades from your memory, be thinking of those things that you wish to pass on in faith. What scripture passage speaks to you most these days? What is your understanding of the love of God for you and for all others? I recall our own family bible, which my sister held onto until her death at the young age of 50 years old. It contained a family tree outline in the front of it telling how we had become a family of faith. My niece now holds that Bible.
As the bright colors of the autumnal season develop before us over the next few months, may their brightness and beauty be a reminder to us all to share in the beauty of faith in Jesus Christ. Much like standing and looking at a magnificent forest, ablaze with bright autumnal colors, the beauty we are granted here is not for us to keep to ourselves but to be shared. I believe life in faith is more spectacular when we can say to a sister or brother standing beside us: “Look at that! Isn’t it wonderful?” Indeed, before the color fades, share your faith. Isn’t it wonderful?
~Pastor Ken Gibson
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