We are in one of the coldest streaks in recent years, at least this early in the year. It is one thing for it to be cold for a night or two, but for the forecast to say there will only be subfreezing temps in the foreseeable future is not too inspiring. When I think of cold, my mind goes to a Sunday morning on January 9, 1977 at my first church in northern Wisconsin. The winters there were always cold, with the Jump River freezing solid and the first snow in late November still being under the subsequent layers through the rest of the winter. You could 'read' the snowfalls of the year when the snowplows cut the edge of the piles along the road. Each layer separated by a thin layer of dirt told the story of the winters' snowstorms.
Cold weather was not foreign to us, either. The place where I worked part time in a garment factory asked me to help do an inventory of material around Christmas time. Since Bonnie and Lee were visiting from Connecticut, I asked Lee if he would like to pick up a little cash by helping with the inventory. It was a very cold day, with temperatures hovering around -10* all day. It is still hard for Lee to do any laughing at the mention of that day. He says it was the coldest he had ever been.
But this Sunday morning was different. When I looked out the window at the thermometer attached to the outside window casing, I knew my measuring instrument must be broken. It couldn't really be -54*! We turned on the radio (we didn't have a TV then either) and heard in amazement that the sheriff's office in Cameron, about 20 miles away, was reporting -60*!! I called deacon Leland and together we decided it would be the only reasonable thing to cancel the morning service. We divided the names of our small congregation and called everyone we could think of. After I had done my calls I went outside to see what it was like. The morning was eerily and completely still. There was not a breath of wind. I could hear no motors running. I heard no voices.
For a preacher to shift gears from preparing, both physically and mentally to go to church and deliver words of life from the pulpit, to doing nothing but stay home made me feel strange and guilty. Then about fifteen minutes after the morning worship was scheduled to begin there came a knock at our front door. There stood Lionel and Marylou with their two small children, Jathan and Vanessa. We pulled them inside as the icy air rolled in the door and across the room. They told us Lionel had gotten up early and milked his cows, gotten cleaned up and loaded his family into his pickup. The drive to church was 15 miles, with the four of them crowded in the cab of the red F-250. But there was no one at the church! “Where was everyone?” they asked.
has a very lovely new building across town where they meet now.
It ended up being a memorable day as we shared a meal together and enjoyed each other. I have thought of that day so many times since, and how blessings can spring out of difficulty. I am always conflicted about canceling scheduled services. Who knows? Someone might really need to be in church that day.
Speaking of that, I am so glad the congregation of the Putnam Baptist Church did what they had to in order to keep the services going during the time I was convalescing.
I am doing well, with more that 10 months behind me since surgery. I know I am improving, but slowly. I plan to post on this blog, but instead of trying to come up with medical stuff to talk about I would like to share other things that might interest my readers, also. I will still share medical stuff when there is something to share.