Nov 212011

Yesterday, my church celebrated its 100th anniversary.

A hundred years ago, in 1911, Ronald Reagan and Roy Rogers were born, Madame Curie won the Nobel prize for chemistry, the first photograph was taken from an airplane (in San Diego), Titanic launched, Ray Harroun won the first Indy 500, Crisco shortening was introduced, and an audience threw vegetables at actors for the first time in recorded US history.

And here’s an interesting webpage – a woman, springing from entries in her grandmother’s journal, talks about what was going on 100 years ago today.

Well back to our church centennial service, I was anticipating a large dose of nostalgia, but instead was inspired by a resounding message of purpose for right now, and the future.

We aren’t the oldest congregation in San Diego – that distinction goes to the Roman Catholic Mission San Diego de Alcala, founded in 1769. Many local protestant congregations predate ours also, like the First Presbyterian Church downtown, founded in 1869.

And we certainly aren’t the biggest church. I jokingly tell people its the kind of church you might find as a prize in a cereal box. To me, sometimes it feels like a little country church in some small farming community. As our pastor said at the celebration, “This church never became big, but the hearts of its people have grown large.”

But in our little community niche of North Park, we currently are the singular century church. In the book, North Park: A San Diego Urban Village, we are listed first in the chapter on Pioneer Schools & Churches.

From humble beginnings in a tent on a dirt lot (you can get away with that sort of thing in San Diego’s climate), this congregation has trusted God and banded together to withstand the pressures of depressions, recessions, World Wars and other conflicts, and many other turmoils without and within – only by the grace and faithfulness of God.

We have stood as a beacon of hope in our community, consistently announcing for well over 5,000 Sundays, and other days in between, that

Jesus the Christ is coming again,

and through Him, it is possible to live life at a higher level!

History and context are important; they should be studied, understood and remembered. And yet, what a thrill for the Thinking Christian Woman to contemplate that God trusts her to represent Him in her moment in history. With Esther, we can confidently and faithfully ponder how God is using us in our spheres of influence, “for such a time as this.” (Esther 4:14)

God has promised in 1 Corinthians 2:9, “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”

Hallelujah! Press on!

© 2011 Melody K. Anderson
All Rights Reserved

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May 262011
What can a Thinking Christian Woman discover by pondering peonies to root out their deeper meanings? Here’s what a budding Master Gardner-in-training had to say:
  • Peonies are extremely hardy, good for passing from one generation to another (spiritual heritage) 
  •  The way to multiply them is to divide them (growth and abundance) 
  • As herbaceous perennials, they require a marked cold spell to bloom (the blessings of enduring hardships) 
  • About the only thing that will do them in is blight, and the only cure is to cut off the affected part and burn it – as my brother says, “better get it right when it comes to blight!” (dealing with sin)
I’m a fourth generation American whose maternal great grandparents emigrated from Sweden and Wales to homestead the sand hills of Nebraska’s North Platte River region. Grandma Hannah Johnson Jones kept house in the middle of a wind-swept section of the prairie that featured buffalo wallows and the ruts left when mail delivery was by Pony Express from Fort Kearney to the post office that later became Hayden School. Grandma’s flowers, especially pansies and peonies, were bright spots against the nearly treeless, grassy tan Nebraska landscape.
Once on a trip to the old home place, Mom dug up some of Grandma’s peonies to transplant back at our home in Indiana (btw – in 1957, the year I was born, the peony became Indiana’s official state flower).

Couple years ago, I dug up two clumps of Mom’s Nebraska-Indiana transplant and brought them home to Southern California, where, unlike Indiana’s highly acidic soil, the soil is predominantly alkaline because of so little rainfall in our semi-arid climate. Naturally, I wondered if the plants would survive.
Well, after about 8 months, I sadly reported to Mom that, by all appearances, the transplants were dead in the ground. I pulled up one, and was intending to pull up the other, but never got around to it. Forgot all about it until one spring day after several months of rain when, lo and behold, there it was, alive and well hidden within a lush growth of weeds!
Ok, so Grandma Jones’ transplanted peony appeared totally dead in the ground but then sprang back to life? What does that mean to the Thinking Christian Woman?
Picture a plot in the Prairie Home Cemetery, east of Holdrege Nebraska, near the farmstead where that plant originated. Many of my pioneering relatives are buried here, including Grandma and Grandpa Jones. Standing over their grave a few years ago, I was struck by the reality that they too are, by all appearances, dead in the ground. And yet, in reality, as they proclaim so confidently on their memorial stone:

“He that hath the Son, hath life” (1 John 5:12)
Peonies and pioneers…from death to life…the reality of resurrection…this is part of the lively hope and power that is the spiritual heritage of every Thinking Christian Woman!

© 2011 Melody K. Anderson
All Rights Reserved

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