Squirrel taught perfect object lesson

Published 12:47 am Saturday, February 20, 2016

Dear friends Bill and Helen from Lillian came to visit Thursday. As we reminisced, it was hard to believe it has been 35 years since my late husband first stepped to the pulpit at the Lillian United Methodist Church. Coincidentally after they left, I found a box with church bulletins and newsletters from Lillian.

Two newsletters caught my eye as I shuffled through those papers. One had an insert titled “Reminiscences. We are in our own church!” It was full of questions beginning “Do you remember…” They all related to the start and progress of the church from August 1980 through August 1983. The insert was sort of a brief history of the church, such as the date the committee acquired the plot of land for the church building (March 19, 1982), and what color the exterior of the little Catholic chapel where we met was—green. The Catholics graciously allowed us to congregate in their chapel for Sunday services until the completion of the building of our church sanctuary. In April of 1982, we assembled on our newly acquired land and held our first Easter Sunrise service.

In the other newsletter, church member Rufus related a story from the early beginnings that might have gone down in the church history. During the early portion of a Sunday Communion sermon, a half grown flying squirrel entered the door of the chapel. At first, it peeked around corners here and there. It caused some consternation among some of the women and even a few men.

The little creature ran over the pianist’s foot and around the foot of the minister. He paused long enough to tell the congregation it was a harmless flying squirrel. As he completed his sermon and began the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, the little squirrel moved down the wall. It stopped at the end of a pew, rolled itself into a ball, folded its flat tail over its eyes, and remained motionless. Even though the feet of many worshippers passed near it as they went to the altar to kneel and receive the sacraments, the squirrel did not move. At the end of the service, a young woman gently removed the squirrel, cradled it in her hands, and took it home with her.

Rufus found a lesson in the presence of the squirrel. It remained still and quiet as the people took Holy Communion. He said he thought about the reverence we humans should have for God and our Lord Jesus as he watched the motionless squirrel setting an example for all present at the service that day. He prayed that our reverence and love never falter.

My husband was appointed as the first full-time minister in June 1981.When we arrived, there were approximately 50 charter members. Upon his retirement in June 1994, almost 300 members were on roll. Today, the Lillian United Methodist Church is alive and well, with its members still faithfully serving our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ.

Nina Keenam is retired from the newspaper business. Her column appears on Saturdays.