A couple of days into Christmas I heard a few conversations about Christmas being over. The newspaper comics were full of people taking down their trees. What? Haven't these folk ever heard of the 12 days of Christmas? Five golden rings, leaping lords and pipers piping? How could you count all those weeks of preparation as CHRISTMAS and then just pack it in? What a waste!
In 1930 Glenn Clark, a literature professor and Presbyterian Sunday School teacher, held his first "Camp Farthest Out." A man of prayer and author of THE SOUL'S SINCERE DESIRE, he had been much in demand as a speaker at camps and conferences. His first camp spawned others--more than 100 still going on today--camps dedicated to "discovering the wholeness of that abundant life which Christ promised; that life which is our rightful heritage whenever we dedicate our body, mind and soul completely to God through play, work and worship."
He sat in the chair across from our desk, a grizzled old codger aglow with the Spirit. "I used to be in this little evangelical church," he explained. "It wasn't going anywhere and neither was I. In North Dakota," he added quickly with a wave of his arm as if to ward of the tentacles of gossip: What church? Where? What brand?
Thinking of Christ the King, I imagined a small hamlet hidden in the mountains; a young boy running through the village shouting, "the King is coming."
Thundering hooves, banners flying; a barefoot girl has only time to grab a handful of wildflowers and tuck a stray hair behind her ear. Will the King accept such a simple offering?
He's a good King, a wise King; not sitting afar off on a golden throne, but come to hear his people. Hay bales are arranged and draped with cloth. The king sits; the people gather...children, dogs and a stray chicken.
It happened again. Despite the press of Daily Life; the press of daily life augmented and magnified by Christmas Concerns; the shopping and cooking, decorating and wrapping, writing and lighting; Despite the hustle and bustle and hurry and flurry, not to even mention the harangues from various pulpits on how This Is Not What Jesus Wants (thanks a lot, guys); Despite the fact that this whole undertaking was undertook ON TOP OF various other crisis large and small (I mean it's not like everything else just STOPS because Christmas is coming); Even still, God Showed Up.
The New Testament shelf is packed. Fact is, believers rarely come in and buy a paperback N.T. Oh, they may on occasion want an Amplified, J.B. Philips, or Message Bible to get the shading of a different version. Or some stray person might notice the Serendipity N.T. with its questions for group studies. But the stacks of NIV KJV Living NE TE and NAS tend to just sit.
Unbelievers don't buy them either. I don't think I've ever had an unbeliever come in and say, "I've just never read the N.T., so I thought I'd give it a shot."
The unity of the Church is an article of faith; a gift of the Holy Spirit. Happy are we when we recognize that unity across the centuries, through denominational and cultural barriers, or in the midst of our present personal struggles. Jesus knows his own.
OUR USED BOOKS ON PRAYER are now listed on abebooks.com and on our web page www.companyofsaints.com/prayer.html Going at present rate, we ought to have all our books listed by the beginning of the next millennium
Prayer was the theme of this year's Family Camp and the hottest selling book was EXPERIENCING THE DEPTHS OF JESUS CHRIST $8.95. Written in the late 1600's the book was publicly burned, with author Jeanne Guyon denounced as a heretic and imprisoned in Bastille. Here's the original title: SHORT AND VERY EASY METHOD OF PRAYER; WHICH ALL CAN PRACTICE WITH GREATEST FACILITY AND ARRIVE IN A SHORT TIME, BY ITS MEANS, AT A HIGH DEGREE OF PERFECTION.
Robert and I went from bookstore to library, lured by the Summer Reading Program and its promise of earning ducats. While he gathered up THE SPOOKSTERS HANDBOOK and PIRATES, I wandered aimlessly, picking up an antique price guide for Marc, who is unloading my mother's storage unit, and John Irving's CIDER HOUSE RULES for myself. "Just what I need, another book," I muttered darkly at the check-out counter.
The Word Shop continues to be an oasis of peace in the midst of a bustling world, an open door, a place to discover great saints and funny ducks...all beloved of God. In order to maintain our already odd hours, we need 7 weekly volunteers, most doing three hour shifts. We currently have 5 of us with various staff members traipsing about the country, tending children out of school, or just plain goofing off.
SIMON'S NIGHT is a simple, beautiful novel (as the book jacket proclaims) by Jon Hassler that I discovered on our Steals & Deals shelf ($1 Cloth 50¢ Paper). It almost went into the free box, but I got interested in this tale of a retired English professor who decided to check himself into a private rest home. Here's a quote:
I read...somewhere...about a couple of guys traveling (Africa? South America? Himalayas?) who thought they'd impress the natives by showing off their techno-cool camping gear. There was a long silence as they pulled item after item out of their back packs for display. Finally one of the natives commented to another, "They must have committed many sins to be carrying such large burdens."