It was cold and getting colder last Saturday at the Warsaw Town Center parking lot leading to the area where Santa would come and greet parents and kids and anyone else who appeared for a Christmas afternoon festival of sorts. A parade would follow, with fire engines, marching groups and even big rig trucks. Don’t you just love rural America! What was advertised as the Warsaw “Holiday Market” spread along the asphalt parking lot walkway between Main Street and the Town Center park. We (St. John’s & Farnham) were there with a couple of tables and “marketable” (we hoped) items. Our goal? To raise whatever we could to help fund a year’s school education for a girl in Sri Lanka. Someone we would never meet who lives half way around the world from us, but, as a young person abandoned by her family would probably have no future without the possibility of education.
We heard about the Holiday Market only a couple of weeks ago, but it sparked an idea: raise money for this Sri Lanka project. Inspired parishioners cut greens, baked pies, cakes, cookies, holiday breads, fudge, gathered Christmas “collectibles” and cooked soups for sale at the market. Some of you also slipped in donated funds. What an amazing group! I couldn’t believe what was happening so fast, in such a short time.
I wanted to do something specific for the sale, have something to offer, other than cheerleading. It came to me a couple of days ahead of the sale as I got together with the person who cuts my hair. She has Beagles. I always ask about them and compare notes about Rocky, my elderly and so dear Beagle grand-dog. She commented about homemade dog biscuits she had bought at the St. Mary’s Whitechapel Christmas Treasures Sale the previous Saturday. There was the “aha” moment I desperately needed. The next day Lucy, our parish secretary (also a gourmet cook) helped locate homemade dog biscuit and treats recipes. We were encouraged by Sir Winston Wigglebutt our parish mascot who works alongside us in the Parish Office. His job description? Hospitality. He perked up hearing the word “dog” and “treats” and soundlessly volunteered for quality control.
The next two evenings I had a wonderful time baking several of the recipes, although after making two batches of biscuits whose special ingredient was pureed chicken liver, I will never order chopped liver deli sandwiches again. The ingredients in gourmet dog biscuits range from chicken livers, to pumpkin, peanut butter, beef broth, oatmeal, bacon, etc., etc. One recipe review offered, “My dogs loved these treats and even my husband, too.”
On Holiday Market Day while most of the people food sold, so did what we had for the dogs. The Warsaw Town Manager’s dog, nose in the air, made a bee line for our table. It drew a small crowd, children first, then the grown-ups. The dog caught our doggie treats thrown to him in mid-air but then danced on his hind legs for more. A Great Dane mix, somewhat more dignified, simply inhaled the treats his owner purchased. The inexpensive dog treats, offered for “crumbs” (mere quarters), were a novelty that drew people to our more expensive goodies.
I was in Israel several years ago. I remember noticing the dogs there, some with their families and a lot of “strays.” After the Holiday Market last Saturday, I thought about my time standing on a grassy hillside with my group, at a place that is held out to tourists as like the place Jesus may have fed thousands. In my mind’s eye I imagined Him blessing the food his disciples gathered from the crowd. Only a few bits and pieces, but it fed many, as it was distributed. And I sensed not only men, women and children partaking, but also imagined the dogs among the crowd, searching for crumbs falling to the ground, or slipped to them by the children beside whom they waited.
And then I thought about the gospel story several Sunday’s ago: Jesus and a Syro-Phoenician woman desperately needing a miracle for her young daughter. She seeks out Jesus, begs for healing for her child. He pauses. Then answers that he came only to be for the “children of Israel” and begins to turn away. She responds, “But even the dogs eat the crumbs under the table.” Jesus pauses, then changes direction, turning back towards her words. He heals the child, someone foreign to him and to his tradition. And he never limits his miracles to only a select group again.
Bible stories live through time. In hindsight? Last Saturday we forgot to ask for it all to be blessed as we set those tables with what little we had to offer for the Christmas Holiday Market on an asphalt lot in a little town named Warsaw. But I can’t help but know, surely, that in some mysterious way last Saturday, it all was blessed even as it began. And that “even the dogs” played a significant part in helping us to offer what we could on that cold winter afternoon to be multiplied for the healing of a young girl’s future, someone foreign to us, one we may never know.
Thursday Afternoon Fireside Tea & Chat
Drop by the Clopton Parlor
at St. John’s any time between 3 & 5 p.m. on Advent “Thursdays” (Dec. 13th & 20th). A time to warm yourself beside the fire and enjoy a warm drink of tea, coffee or cider. Bring a friend if you like. No Agenda. Offered as a time-out from the busy-ness of the season for just time together.
December Farnham Vestry meeting has been postponed until
January 3rd at 7:00 p.m.
annual meeting and Greening the Church takes place in the Farnham Parish Hall on December 13th at 11:00 a.m.
Celebration of Angels & Light
will be held this Sunday December 16th at 3:00 p.m.The event will include special concert level music featuring Ben Cox on the organ, Arline Hinkson on violin and Laura Rowe on flute. The music will offer emphasis on traditional and Celtic pieces woven through special seasonal readings. There will be an opportunity to light candles in memory of loved ones. This highly musical and visual afternoon continues with a reception and art show in the parish hall, featuring the work of Kim Papanicolaou and Kathryn Murray. Papanicolaou is known for her amazing angel creations. She designs angels with a “soul” from architectural salvage, metal and other found objects. She describes her art known as “Soul Pickets” as arising out of a need to create and each angel has its own story. Kathryn Murray, a photographer for over forty years offers views of the Northern Neck and its rivers through an artist’s eyes. Her work, well known in local galleries, presents a remarkable interplay of light and shadow often focusing on transitional times of light such as sunrise and sunsets or through mists hovering over water or landscapes.
Mon., Dec. 17th 9:30 a.m. – 1p.m.“Winter Light”
An Advent Quiet Morning at Farnham led by Torrence.
This morning will offer a time apart during this busy season to reflect, refresh and renew your spirit in the beautiful historic sanctuary at Farnham. Some reflective readings will guide you in quiet time for journaling, reading, coloring, collage, other creative offerings or just sitting in silence. It is a time to just “be,” resting in the promise of coming Light. We will
conclude with Noonday prayer followed by sharing over lunch. A $5 donation is requested to defray the costs of materials and lunch.
Pleasersvp to Torrence by Friday, Dec. 14thif you plan to attend.