My gracious sakes alive, I thought the snowflakes would never stop fallin’. The snow just kept blowin’ and driftin’ and gettin’ deeper and deeper! Why the drifts between the house and the barn got so high that I looked out when your Uncle Orley was out feeding the stock and I thought I saw his hat blowin’ across the top of the snow. Turns out that’s just all I could see of him.
After a little bit, I looked out again and his hat was just a-bouncin’ for all it was worth. Well, that called for investigation. Turns out your uncle had both hands frozen to the steel barnyard gate. He was a-hollerin’ to beat the band but with the wind howlin’ like it was I couldn’t hear a thing till I got right close to him. Not knowing what else to do, I freed him by pourin’ a bucket of water over his hands, but by that time his teeth were chatterin’ so violently that I think he cracked his upper plate.
Reminds me of winters when I was a little girl. I don’t rightly know whether the snow was so much deeper then or maybe my legs were just shorter, but it does seem that the winters were fiercer back then. Until this year, that is.
This mornin’ real early we got a phone call telling us that church was called off. I guess it was just as well. Uncle Orley and I would have had to take the tractor to get there. We mighta done that back in our younger days, but these days we like to think we’re smarter. We were already plannin’ to go to one of those TV churches when we got the call. It didn’t feel quite right stayin’ at home watchin’ a TV preacher. I’ll tell you, I had my doubts about what kind of sermon we might be hearin’. But as Orley said, “Even a bad preacher can’t mess up Christmas but so much.”
The trouble with callin’ off church is it seems like some folks must think the good Lord cancels the tithe when they don’t have church. I guess they figure it’s kinda like landin’ on a free spin on Wheel of Fortune, don’t ya know. “It snowed, so I get to keep the Lord’s money!” is what they seem to think.
Well, I had a turn as church treasurer several years back and it was an eye-openin’ experience, let me just tell you. I found out some of the folks who do the most talkin’ do the least givin’. ‘Least that’s how it was down at Bluebell Baptist when I was keepin’ the books. I don’t recon things have changed much, ‘cause the same folks are still there for the most part.
Why, I couldn’t help but notice that durin’ revivals while we’d be singin’ “I Surrender All,” some of these folks would run down to the front and kneel down at the altar and cry crocodile tears in gettin’ their hearts right. Now, I’m not makin’ light of their decisions, I want you to know that, but a lot of ‘em musta left their pocketbooks back in the pew ‘cause their givin’ showed no hint of them bein’ laid on the altar. Uncle Orley says we ought to change the last verse of that song to say “I surrender some,” just so a lot of Baptists don’t have to leave worship with a lie on their lips.
My, my, but the words are fairly jumpin’ outta my pen onto the page. I had no idea this subject had me wrapped around the axle like it does, but hypocrisy has always had a way of gnawin’ at my innards. But Uncle Orley keeps tellin’ me to pay attention to what the Apostle says to the Philippians and think about the good things. He says I dwell too much on what’s wrong — and I have to admit there’s some truth to that. It’s hard not to though ‘cause there’s so blame much that’s wrong. But, to be fair, most folks at Bluebell Baptist, and other churches, too, I recon, are faithful givers.
These are the folk who will send in their tithes even when the snow piles up and we call off church. They might need a little nudge, but they’ll come through ‘cause they know that the bills still come due the same as when the sun shines. We still gotta pay the preacher and send money to missions. Why, think about what it means to the Virginia Baptist Mission Board and the missionaries when half the churches in the state call off church. By the way, nephew, you might outta check on that Eddie Stratton fella who keeps track of the state money just to make sure his ticker didn’t give out when the snow was flyin’. I remember his mama who was WMU president back when I was a member of the Posta B. Sharon women’s day circle at Bluebell.
What Bro. Stratton might be goin’ through puts me in mind of that jailer when Paul and Silas were behind bars and the earthquake came. The jailer thought everbody had made a break for it, but Paul said “Hold on there, we’re all still here.” I’d want to say to Mr. Stratton, “Don’t fret none! We’re all still here. We’re good faithful Baptists and we’ll send in our tithes!” I’d like to say that to Bro. Bobby, our dear young preacher, too.
Well, that’s what I’d like to say and I hope I prove to be a prophetess. I can’t say what other folks will do, but I’ve already written our check and sealed the envelope. I’ll put it in the mail tomorrow along with this letter. Assumin’ of course that neither snow nor sleet nor all that other stuff will keep our mail person from gettin’ out. I know our treasurer at Bluebell, N.D. Black, will be wantin’ to close out the year in good shape so we’re gonna do our part and maybe a little bit extra.
I guess I’d best close for now and go tend to your uncle. He’s about half thawed out now. By bedtime he oughtta be able to move his lips. Can’t rightly say, though, that I’m lookin’ forward to what he has to say.
If you get some time durin’ the holidays to come our way, we’ll have the lane plowed for you. Naturally, we’d love to see you and Connie. Bring those grand girls of yours ‘cause we got snow and hills and a big tractor tire tube that’s just waitin’ for the chance to hear younguns scream with delight.
Merry Christmas to you and to everyone who might chance to read this.
Love always, Aunt Ida