Fred and Wilma -- "You know, like the Flintstones," they said the morning I met them at Spring Hill Methodist Church. About a year ago.
It was the time during the service, right after the call to worship, when the minister tells us to take a break to "meet and greet" one another. This elderly couple was sitting in the pew right behind me and both reached out their hands as I stood and turned towards them.
It was my first visit here. I liked it so much I never got around to visiting the Episcopal church across the street. I quickly claimed my ‘comfortable place' in the pew in front of Fred and Wilma. Which was also behind the pew with the big crack about 3 feet long in the seat. Finding my "spot" by sighting Fred and Wilma became my weekly routine.
And soon the handshake became a gentle hug for and with each of them. You might say it made my sense of "homeness" in this place complete.
A few weeks ago, during ‘sharing joys and sorrow' time during the service we learned one of our members had been diagnosed with stomach cancer. His name, along with others experiencing various trials and illnesses appeared in the bulletin. Early on in my attendance at this church I began adding the new names from the bulletin each week to my daily prayer list. For my own daily devotion time of prayers and scripture reading – Sitting next to the fire in my fireplace in winter and out on my screened-in porch during the warmer months. Along with my coffee, it has become my morning ritual.
Each day I take out my list and name each person asking God to provide healing, or comfort, or protection – whatever it is that particular person or family needs.
Today, at church, a new couple was sitting about mid-way in the rows. I didn’t see Fred and Wilma so I looked for the cracked pew as my marker and found my "spot" that way. It was directly in front of these new folks. During meet and greet I turned around to shake their hands. We exchanged greetings and I learned they had been coming about a month. I told them Fred and Wilma usually sat there but I hadn’t seen them for a few weeks. (Sometimes I go to church in Franklin with my son and his family).
I turned to sit back down and suddenly it hit me. Like a punch to my stomach. Fred and Wilma . . . Fred as in THE Fred Thompson with stomach cancer I have recently been praying for.
Dear little Fred and Wilma – who remind me so much of my own precious parents now residing in heaven. I think Pastor Keith would forgive me if he knew I only half listened to his sermon today. Mostly I spent his sermon time crying and praying for these two sweet dear souls.
Please, God, Jehovah Rophi, reign down healing upon your precious son, Fred.