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Sunday, December 6, 2015

Pastor's column - Another Thanksgiving under My Belt




By Dr. James L. Snyder

The house is quiet now, although a few hours ago it was thumping with all kinds of noise and chatter. Once again, the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage and I sponsored another Thanksgiving dinner.

My role, of course as in previous years, is to stay out of the kitchen and let the wife do what only the wife can do. My sponsorship is finished right there.

Now everything is quiet and I am sitting back reflecting on the marvelous dinner and time with the family. In the quietness of the time, I began to think about those Thanksgiving dinners with my grandmother back in "the day." They all blur together, but the one thing that stands out from everything is my grandmother's marvelous turkey and all the trimmings and went with it.

As I was thinking about that, I remembered some of my relatives who faithfully joined us for that marvelous Thanksgiving dinner. What great times we had.

There was Uncle Ralph, for instance. He was a fisherman, or so he said, and had so many fishing stories I could write a book. If half of what he said in his stories were true, there should not be any fish left in the world. He would entertain us with all those marvelous fishing stories of his. Being a young person, I believed everything he said. After all, what uncle would lie to his nephew?

Then I cannot forget Uncle Andrew. He was the hunter in the family. If the deer population is on the brink of extinction, it is because of Uncle Andrew. According to him, no deer was safe from him. All except for one.

As he told the story, he was out hunting early one Saturday morning and ran across the biggest deer he had ever seen in his life. According to him, this deer went easily 1,000 pounds. As he focused that deer in his scope, he noticed the deer was staring at him. As he looked at that deer and looked into those big brown tear filled eyes good old Uncle Andrew broke down.

He put down his rifle, walked over to that huge deer, shook his hoof and said, "My friend, I just want to wish you a good day." With that, he turned around and walked away from the largest deer that ever lived in the world.

It took me years to realize no deer ever comes near the 1000-pound trophy that he talked about.

Then I remembered Aunt Sally. Boy, did she have stories to tell.

According to her stories, she was the world's most frugal shopper. If there ever was a bargain in the world, it was negotiated by Aunt Sally. If what she said was anywhere near the neighborhood of truth, all the shopkeepers downtown paid her just to come and haul stuff out of their store.

She could negotiate to the point, or so she said, that the stores would pay her to buy items in their store. I never could figure out how that worked. As she would toss out the figures, I started doing a little bit of arithmetic and all I can say is, my arithmetic teacher did not teach me everything about arithmetic.

I would not go so far as to say these relatives of mine lied. As far as they were concerned, a lie is a devious intent to hurt someone. If you knew my relatives, that was the furthest thing from their mind.

Thinking about those relatives and their stories, I can see where I inherited some of that inclination. The thing I have that those relatives did not have was the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage. That makes all the difference in the world.

Whenever I get started on one of my stories, she stares at me with one of "those stares," and says, "Seriously?" Believe me that takes all the wind out of my sails.

So, with another Thanksgiving dinner under my belt, I have the privilege of all of those wonderful memories. Family is made up of memories. I do not know what it is, but the older I get, the more memories I seem to have and those memories seem to be enhanced along the way.

The funny thing about a memory is it can be anything you happen to remember at the time. I get that from my relatives.

Those relatives are gone now. All I have are their memories, which seem to be sharp this time of the year. I believe the key element of a memory, and I got this from my relatives, is exaggeration. What good is a memory if you cannot spice it up a little bit with exaggeration?

Thinking along this line, I came to one very solemn conclusion. The only thing I cannot exaggerate is God and His wonderful love for me. That I am most thankful for this one thing.

No matter how far I go in talking about God's amazing love for me, I've never reached the point or come near the point of exaggeration. God loves me with an eternal love that nothing I can do can ever compromise.

A Bible verse says it all. "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16).

God never exaggerates His love for me, it is the same yesterday, and today and forever.

The Rev. James L. Snyder is pastor of the Family of God Fellowship, PO Box 831313, Ocala, FL 34483. He lives with his wife, Martha, in Silver Springs Shores. Call him at 352-687-4240 or e-mail jamessnyder2@att.net. The church website is www.whatafellowship.com.

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