Psalm 102:18 “Let this be written for a future generation, that a people not yet created may praise the Lord.”
The wispy peacock feathers on the teal green background of my Bible cover brought back many memories as I prepared for communion Sunday morning in 2012 at House of Prayer Church in Blairsville, Georgia. The words Faith – Hebrews 11:1 on the cover inspired my own hall of faith recollections.
Faith, feathers and family
The peacock feathers reminded me of a favorite flower arrangement. A wall décor with flowers, grapes, and the peacock feathers in the background mounted on a green burlap matted frame was my first purchase from a Home Interiors party. My favorite colors of green and teal permeated the arrangement. This attempt at decorating our first home in Marietta, Georgia in 1966 and establishing some permanence in my life was short lived.
As a “military brat” I had never lived more than three years in one place. John and I married in 1965. We planned to live in our nice three-bedroom brick ranch style house for many years.
I felt guilty our house was nicer than any my parents had lived in. I also mused that we would never have sad stories to tell our children about how difficult it was in the early years of our marriage. My false guilt and regret were replaced with many adventures to share with family and friends.
My husband’s surrender to the call to full time Christian ministry initiated many moves and changes in our then idyllic life. Each time we moved I was careful to pack the peacock arrangement to prevent damage. After many U-Haul adventures it was reduced to just the peacock feathers and the flowers. Not sure what happened to the grapes or the burlap frame – could be our small boys played with the grapes and the frame was used for a bulletin board?
In our first church in 1971 at Shelby, NC where John was serving as pastor of Shelby Missionary Methodist Church, the peacock feathers coordinated perfectly with the green cabinets in my kitchen. The church board was so wonderful about remodeling the parsonage to meet our needs. They asked me if I wanted the kitchen cabinets painted and I said, “Yes, green!”
The green background on my Bible drew me back to the present communion service where my eyes fell on the word Faith in large letters and in smaller letters Hebrews 11 surrounded with peacock feathers. I always placed my Bible on my lap during communion to avoid spilling the juice. Quoting the verse from Hebrews 11:1 in my mind kept me focused on preparing myself for receiving the elements that represent the body and blood of Christ. The pianist played a medley of hymns about the blood of Christ and my mind again wandered to other services when I was privileged to participate in The Lord’s Supper.
One service was in 1966 at the First Evangelical Methodist Church in Marietta, Georgia when Dr. Neil Anderson was serving communion. He quoted the words from many hymns like “There is a Fountain Filled with Blood”; “Nothing but the Blood of Jesus: and “There is Power in the Blood.”
The pattern of serving communion in that church was for the congregation to kneel at the altar. When the altar was filled others would wait for the next time. Sometimes it would take several tables as our pastor, Rev. Frank Ray referred to each group. This gave each person time to pray and also the pastor prayed for them as he served communion.
The order of service for communion changed for us over the years. When John began his ministry he followed the traditional method of serving wafers and juice in communion cups. Depending on the size of the congregation most were served while they sat in their pews.
Then we were exposed to the pattern of serving communion by intinction (receiving a piece of consecrated bread or wafer, dipping it in wine or grape juice, and consuming it) through the United Methodist Church and the Emmaus Community. Walk to Emmaus is a unique weekend when participants receive spiritual instruction, insight and inspiration. John and I both participated in Emmaus as pilgrims and later as servants.
Our experience with the Emmaus community was very special and John decided to serve communion by intinction in his churches. The last church he served was Confidence United Methodist Church in Blairsville, Georgia. The people, though reluctant at first, responded with great awe. One lady was so overwhelmed she cried and said “I felt as if the Lord Jesus was serving me like one of the disciples at the Last Supper.”
John served communion to our family shortly after the birth of our first grandchild, Chalonda. I read the book “I’ll Love You Forever,” by Robert Munsch – a children’s book about the progression of love from parent to child and then child to parent in the aging years. We all cried and realized this would also happen in our family in time. One year John served communion to our annual family Christmas morning gathering.
Our youngest son’s wedding was another special communion celebration. Tim and his wife Shelley were married in the Susan B. Harris Chapel on the campus of Young Harris College in 1999. John conducted the wedding ceremony and then he and Dr. David Murphy, Shelley’s Dad, served communion in the intinction style. Several of our friends from Michigan attended the wedding and when they came to receive communion my heart swelled with joy to see them share this special occasion with us and at the same time celebrate our faith through the thanksgiving for the sacrifice of our Savior.
As the deacons passed out the wafers and the grape juice that morning in 2012 my thoughts returned to the service and I repeated the words I heard a precious saint say many years ago during a communion service – “Jesus saves me, Jesus saves me now.”
This simple phrase has eternal implications and serves as a reminder to me that I have nothing to do with this precious ceremony but to receive my Lord’s sacrifice of his body and blood for my sins and be grateful. Also, I am grateful for the memories of many times of participating in this expression of faith.
Now the peacock feather décor from early marriage days has returned in the form of my Bible Cover and my faith is still offering me hope. The distraction was a blessing to help me concentrate on the meaning of that verse Hebrews 11:1 – “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
The stories in Shekinah Lanedemonstrate how God has covered us with His feathers and increased our faith as we learned to dwell in his presence. We did not anticipate the adventures God would provide for us in this journey of faith. His Shekinah Glory has covered us, comforted us, and catapulted us into an exciting life of faith.
Our desire is that future generations and those who read our story will experience this Shekinah (the glory of God) – God’s indwelling and presence in their lives and follow Him.
Psalm 91 He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his feathers and under his wings you will find refuge, His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
Ephesians 2:22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.