October 27, 2013
We have about eight weeks before winter officially arrives and most of us have many things to get done. All of us will see the changes, no matter where we live.
Kitty and I once lived with our two children in the beautiful city of Decatur, Illinois, and had the privilege of being part of the dynamic and growing Peoples Church of God. The winters could be unlike any we have ever experienced in southwestern West Virginia.
In central Illinois, it could be freezing weather with lots of snow for weeks. It was real wintertime, but it was always beautiful. By 5:00, I would leave the office and head for our house one mile up MacArthur Road.
Henry Clayborne described this cold snowy season as “Trees stooping under burdens of snow, windows filigreed with frost, shadows of drifting hummocks turning blue-cold as northerners mummify themselves in coats and scarves.”
When I was a child, our supply of coal for the winter would be delivered in November and certainly by the first of December. My daily cold weather chores included carrying enough coal to warm our two bedrooms and supply fuel for the cook stove in the kitchen.
Blessed by creative minds, Christian imagination and Biblical knowledge, Jim and Helen Mifflin, he was a Caterpillar employee, designed what became known as “The Windows of Christmas” which, by the first of November, was well underway. Two hundred people from the church were involved in this production for costuming, make-up, drama, music and hot chocolate. For four nights of this exciting drive-through light and sound pageant, approximately three thousand people watched from their automobiles. They saw and heard the Christmas story. Newspaper, radio and television coverage always exceeded expectation. It was the church’s annual Christmas gift to Decatur and Central Illinois.
I probably will not be in Illinois this Christmas season, but I still have many things to do before winter arrives. There must be billions of leaves to rake, the final mowing of the lawn for this year, planting some small trees, putting some pretty flowers in the garage until spring arrives again.
During the winter months, I will not shoot basketball every day as I normally do. Baseball’s World Series has started. Football is passing its middle point and basketball teams are getting ready for another season.
Sitting on the Mt. of Olives with Peter, James, John and Andrew, Jesus engaged them in conversation about the end of the age. They talked about many things including a period of great tribulation. It is all in Mark 13, and I underscore verse 18, which has Jesus saying, “And pray that your flight may not be in winter.”
Great sermons by the best preachers have been written and delivered on this text, “Come before winter.”
There are many things to take care of before the middle of December. In November you, your pastor and congregation will want to be deeply involved with “My Hope America with Billy Graham” who will be 95 years old on November 7. This is another great opportunity for our nation to escape destruction.
If you have not done so, take the first week of November to continue celebrating, as we have all of October, “Pastors Appreciation Month”, for your present pastoral leaders and former pastors. Peoples Church in Decatur, in addition to its staff, once had eight former pastors who continued to serve the church in numerous ways. Be sure to invite many to church every week and urge them to “come before winter.”
© 2013 Wm. C. Ellis
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