Sunday May 31, 2009

Cierra Edwards shared pencil and oil sketches she produced for her High School Art Class this past year on Sunday morning during meeting for worship.  Her words during meeting for worship:

"The unique combination of God's gifts to each person is what makes each person special and unique.  God has given each one of us the ability to do at least one thing well.  As with every other gift, we much remember that our talents and abilities were entrusted to us out of God's wisdom and for the purpose of His glory.  'As each one has received a gift, employ it in servicing one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God,' commands 1 Peter 4:10.  When our talents and abilities are dedicated to God, there is no limit as to how he will use them.  The blessings we have received from God, in turn, become blessings to others."

Sunday January 27, 2008  Clarence Kritsch

Written by Pam Ferguson and shared during meeting for worship.

I doubt there is anyone I’ve ever met who loves farming more than Clarence Kritsch.  If you want to see Clarence smile, talk to him about his cows or ask about how the corn is doing, or about how many bushels to the acre the soybeans brought during harvest.  Clarence loves the outdoors, and he loves that piece of earth along Highway 32 that has been his home for 76 years.

For a farmer that loves to watch things grow, these long Indiana winters are tough to endure.  Winchester plays basketball only 2 or 3 nights a week.  That leaves too many long, cold, dark nights to wait for the snow to melt, and spring time to arrive once again so he can get back on a tractor and dig in the Indiana dirt.  Watching television during these long winters is not a great activity for someone like Clarence who likes to be doing something.

Close to 30 years ago, Maxine got an idea that Clarence might enjoy doing something with those long cold winters.  She spent a lot of her time during the winter evenings sewing or doing cross stitch, so she bought Clarence a latch-hook rug kit to work during the winter months.  Clarence did one rug every winter for a long time, but eventually, one rug slipped into two and this winter he’s already completed two rugs and it is only the end of January!  Rugs decorate the Kritsch farmhouse and now spill over into other Kritsch households, including a few rooms of great grandchildren. 

As we look at the winter’s work these rugs represent, I would like to call attention to some lessons we can learn through the work of Clarence’s hands. 

One is that all time is precious.  It was hard for me to adjust to cold Indiana winters after living in Africa for 6 years. After ten winters, I still complain about the cold and the darkness. I’m sure Clarence would rather not endure long, cold winters either, but he decided that he could use his time redemptively and create something good from those hours.  There are many things in our world today that compete for our time and energy.  Television, the internet, and computer games are tempting new generations away from creating useful, beautiful things with their hands.  Clarence’s rugs are a visual reminder that winters can be used for good and that good things come from time used redemptively.  

I can’t help but think of all the hours that Delilah uses redemptively to make kitchen wash clothes and scratchers or the hours that Louise Cox spent crocheting lap robes

How many of us have thrown away a piece of yarn this small?  These rugs are made up of single 2 inch strands of yarn hooked through a net.  Each strand is hooked individually and each rug is made up of thousands of individual strands. These small pieces of yarn, each one fairly insignificant, are taken by Clarence and hooked into these rugs to make something good and useful.  An hour in a lifetime seems pretty insignificant.  All of our hours and our days on earth are numbered, are we using each hour, each day to make our world a better place?  Do we remember that all time is precious? 

Each of these strands is fairly simple and all very simple colors.  But by following a map, a plan, Clarence hooks each of those short little simple strands into one piece that creates a beautiful pattern or picture.  How many of us use the map and plan God intended for our life, the example of Jesus and the bible, to make our lives as beautiful and useful? 

Our lives are made up of one day at a time.  Some days are simple.  Some are difficult.  Some have color, some are colorless, some are easy and some are difficult. All of our days are weaved together: the colorless ones, the colorful ones, the difficult ones, and together, they make up a life that is like one of Clarence’s rugs, beautiful to look at and useful in our world.  These rugs represent our lives and the challenge for each one of us to use our days wisely to create something worth remembering, something worth celebrating.  I think Maxine started a good thing.     


Mary Bailey and Baskets from her basket class students  May 7, 2006

We have been blessed by some incredible women in our meeting.  Women whose ministry reaches many people and women who make a difference in our world.  I want to call attention to just two this morning.   

Louise Cox turned 92 on Thursday.  Her presence in world has been a gift from God and we are thankful for her life and especially for her friendship.  We are especially thankful for her ministry through her letters and her lap robes and the , remarkable way she has blessed so many of us.  As a way of letting her know that, the clerks and officers of our meeting decided to use today to celebrate her life and ministry through the offering of cards and stamps and yarn to Louise to help her with her incredible and important ministry.  Our prayer is that you live long enough and are healthy enough to use all these cards and stamps Louise!  Thank you for being a part of Winchester Friends.  We are a better community and fellowship because of your ministry. 

As a way to say thank you to Mary Bailey for the 5 years she has been teaching basket making, we thought it would be good to do gather all the baskets together that have been made under her care or influence.  It is a visual lesson to the parable of the talents.  Mary was given a gift by God and she used it well to bless our lives and our homes and as you can see from the baskets here, her gift has grown.  She has been a good and faithful steward of God's blessings.

Our hours with Mary in the basement taught us much.  Many of the things we learned can be applied to our Christian life.  

Mary always tells us that you can never use too many clothespins.  In our Christian lives, we need all the help we can get to hold things together. 

Mary always praises our work, even if it isn't perfect.  No matter how hard we try and work, our lives are never perfect. It isn't so important that we always do everything right all the time, it is important that we are in the process of making something useful.

Ellene always comes to our basket class and complains about how frustrating making baskets is, but she always comes back and she always loves the basket she makes.  Life is hard and life is frustrating, but there is a sense of satisfaction in running the race and being a part of the good in our world.   

Some of these baskets are made for decoration and some are made for usefulness, like the double pie basket, the trash can, or the veggie tray.  Some Christians are only good for decoration.  But then there are others in our world who are incredibly useful like Mary and Louise.  We all have an opportunity to make a difference in our world through the gifts we've been given.  We have the opportunity to make our lives like these baskets, to carry useful items into our world to bless it, to clean up our world or and to make it a better place.

Mary always tells us to scrunch up our reeds or to weave it tightly.  We need to remember that in our lives.  Don't leave loose ends, keep our lives tidy and neat, and it makes for a more sturdy basket and life.   

I enjoy basket making, but I find it really difficult to do alone.  I never seem to be able to finish a basket on my own.  I need to be able to look at a basket to understand the written directions and sometimes I need to watch the others or Mary in the class do something before I can do it.  Our walk with God is very similar.  We need others to live lives before us to show us what is possible.  We need others to show us how to be the hands and feet of Jesus to make a difference in our world.

I mentioned that Ellene finds basket making incredibly frustrating, but I think she enjoys it for one of the reasons I do.  It is a wonderful place of fellowship.  It is fun to be together with each other as we make baskets and visit and share.  We need others to help in in our journey.  The difficult parts of life seem a little less difficult with friends and other Christians who care and walk with us. 

Every time Ellen Craig makes a basket she isn't satisfied with she says that she will put "made in China" on the bottom.  The sad fact is that most of the baskets made somewhere else are much better than ours.  But, we faithfully sign the bottom of our baskets with our names because they are something we put together with our own hands, a unique creation.  I hope that we all have God's signature on our hearts and minds......a recognition that God created something wonderful to make a difference in our world. 

Thank you Louise and Mary for your ministry among us.