Grant Swank
Winter fellowship surprises
By Grant Swank
December 11, 2008

Esther opened her home for fellowship — Christian sharing.

Mid-winter — post-Christmas drab. But not for Carl Miller as he poked his hot dog on metal stick into the living room fireplace. Then came the marshmallows — toasted and ready for the taking.

"Roast a marshmallow for me," I asked the ten-year-old. So he brought me a plateful. It's been some time since I wafted down a plateful of marshmallows fresh from the coals.

Jesus told His disciples to separate themselves from the day's activity to rest awhile. He knew the value of downtime, just plain "doing a huge hunk of nothing," as my Dad used to put it. Then it was that Jesus retreated with His friends to the mountains outside the city. They'd chat. No doubt there was laughter heard echoing across the Kidron Valley toward Jerusalem's gates.

Christian sharing is needed in this spiritually fallen world. So it was that Butch of New Gloucester lifted high his hot dog in roll as if the trophy of the evening. Dressed in condiments, it was not long until the dog disappeared — then time for at least another. Sure thing.

Esther's Standish home is such an open, welcome place. Often she swings wide the door for others to enter, discovering there gospel music providing background calm, a table surprising guests with freshly baked muffins and that fireplace roaring its innards.

Butch's wife, Anna, wound her way from the kitchen to the living room, making conversation with our special guests, Pete and Sue Heilemann from Woodsville, New Hampshire. They had had a full day at their respective offices; but to drive the two-and-a-half hours for a believers' get-together was well worth the jaunt. Their overnight would be in our own Windham home, followed by a tasty breakfast casserole with fruit cup and homebaked breads.

Our lives are so hurried. Jesus' days were filled with crowds beckoning. Our hours are appointment-laden. Jesus' calendar knew little reprieve. Yet it is our Lord Jesus who invites us to "be still and know that I am God." It is Jesus who invites us to "cast all your cares" upon Him. It is Jesus who reminds that He stands at the door knocking, waiting for us to open the door, inviting Him in to sup with Him.

When with Christian friends for such an evening as spent in Esther's gracious home, we realize that the invisible Jesus presence is there with us. That of course makes that conclave different than any other. Jesus in the midst. Jesus watching over. Jesus caring and loving His own children of grace.

So it was that as I looked over the room, taking in particularly Crystal Miller, 38, conversing animatedly with Ray Alley, 80, I was refreshed with the scene. They surely had enough to talk about. They were caught up in one another's life situations — comparing notes, sharing concerns, genuinely interested. No generation gap when believers' hearts reach out to build another bridge.

Thank you, Jesus, for winter surprises come upon with friends.

© Grant Swank


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Grant Swank

Joseph Grant Swank, Jr., is a pastor at New Hope Church in Windham, Maine... (more)

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