Posted on Thu, Nov 28, 2013
Carl was a quiet man. He didn't talk much. He would always greet you with a big smile and a firm handshake. Even after living in our neighborhood for over 50 years, no one could really say they knew him very well.
Before his retirement, he took the bus to work each morning. The lone sight of him walking down the street often worried us. He had a slight limp from a bullet wound received in WWII. Watching him, we worried that although he had survived WWII, he may not make it through our changing uptown neighborhood with its ever-increasing random violence, gangs, and drug activity.
When he saw the flyer at our local church asking for volunteers for caring for the gardens behind the minister's residence, he responded in his
characteristically unassuming manner. Without fanfare, he just signed up.
He was well into his 87th year when the very thing we had always feared finally happened. He was just finishing his watering for the day when three gang members approached him. Ignoring their attempt to intimidate him, he simply asked, "Would you like a drink from the hose?”
The tallest and toughest-looking of the three said, "Yeah, sure," with a malevolent little smile. As Carl offered the hose to him, the other two grabbed Carl's arm, throwing him down. As the hose snaked crazily over the ground, dousing everything in its way, Carl's assailants stole his retirement watch and his wallet, and then fled. Carl tried to get himself up, but he had been thrown down on his bad leg. He lay there trying to gather himself as the minister came running to help him.
Although the minister had witnessed the attack from his window, he couldn't get there fast enough to stop it. "Carl, are you okay? Are you hurt?" the minister kept asking as he helped Carl to his feet. Carl just passed a hand over his brow and sighed, shaking his head. "Just some punk kids. I hope they'll wise up someday." His wet clothes clung to his slight frame as he bent to pick up the hose. He adjusted the nozzle again and started to water. Confused and a little concerned, the minister asked, "Carl, what are you doing?"
"I've got to finish my watering. It's been very dry lately," came the calm reply. Satisfying himself that Carl really was all right, the minister could only marvel. Carl was a man from a different time and place.
A few weeks later the three returned. Just as before their threat was unchallenged. Carl again offered them a drink from his hose. This time they didn't rob him. They wrenched the hose from his hand and drenched him head to foot in the icy water. When they had finished their humiliation of him, they sauntered off down the street, throwing catcalls and curses, falling over one another laughing at the hilarity of what they had just done. Carl just watched them. Then he turned toward the warmth giving sun, picked up his hose, and went on with his watering.
The summer was quickly fading into fall. Carl was doing some tilling when he was startled by the sudden approach of someone behind him. He stumbled and fell into some evergreen branches. As he struggled to regain his footing, he turned to see the tall leader of his summer tormentors reaching down for him. He braced himself for the expected attack.
"Don't worry old man, I'm not gonna hurt you this time." The young man spoke softly, still offering the tattooed and scarred hand to Carl. As he helped Carl get up, the man pulled a crumpled bag from his pocket and handed it to Carl. "What's this?" Carl asked. "It's your stuff," the man explained. "It's your stuff back. Even the money in your wallet.
"I don't understand," Carl said. "Why would you help me now?"
The man shifted his feet, seeming embarrassed and ill at ease. "I learned something from you," he said. "I ran with that gang and hurt people like you. We picked you because you were old and we knew we could do it. But every time we came and did something to you, instead of yelling and fighting back, you tried to give us a drink. You didn't hate us for hating you. You kept showing love against our hate."
He stopped for a moment. "I couldn't sleep after we stole your stuff, so here it is back." He paused for another awkward moment, not knowing what more there was to say. "That bag's my way of saying thanks for straightening me out, I guess." And with that, he walked off down the street.
Carl looked down at the sack in his hands and gingerly opened it. He took out his retirement watch and put it back on his wrist. Opening his wallet, he checked for his wedding photo. He gazed for a moment at the young bride that still smiled back at him from all those years ago.
He died one cold day after Christmas that winter. Many people attended his funeral in spite of the weather. In particular the minister noticed a tall young man that he didn't know sitting quietly in a distant corner of the church. The minister spoke of Carl's garden as a lesson in life. In a voice made thick with unshed tears, he said, "Do your best and make your garden as beautiful as you can. We will never forget Carl and his garden."
The following spring another flyer went up. It read: "Person needed to care for Carl's garden." The flyer went unnoticed by the busy parishioners until one day when a knock was heard at the minister's office door. Opening the door, the minister saw a pair of scarred and tattooed hands holding the flyer. "I believe this is my job, if you'll have me," the young man said. The minister recognized him as the same young man who had returned the stolen watch and wallet to Carl.
He knew that Carl's kindness had turned this man's life around. As the minister handed him the keys to the garden shed, he said, "Yes, go take care of Carl's garden and honor him." The man went to work and, over the next several years, he tended the flowers and vegetables just as Carl had done. During that time, he went to college, got married, and became a prominent member of the community. But he never forgot his promise to Carl's memory and kept the garden as beautiful as he thought Carl would.
One day he approached the new minister and told him that he couldn't care for the garden any longer. He explained with a shy and happy smile, "My wife just had a baby boy last night and she's bringing him home on Saturday."
"Well, congratulations!" said the minister, as he was handed the garden shed keys. "That's wonderful! What's the baby's name?" "Carl," he replied.
What was it Jesus said as He was being nailed to the cross? “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” There is no one who is outside the reach of God’s love. There is no one who is unworthy of forgiveness. There is no one God does not want to forgive. Peter denied Jesus three times. But he never quit following Jesus. He never cut himself off from the love of God. And Jesus forgave him and told him, “Feed my sheep.”
Judas, who betrayed Jesus, could have been forgiven also. Despite the magnitude of his sin, if he had come to Jesus and repented and asked forgiveness, Jesus would have forgiven him as well. Judas’ chief sin was not that he betrayed Jesus, but that he had no faith. He did not believe he could be forgiven, and so he didn’t ask.
Ask. That’s all it takes.
As we enter the season of Advent, leading up to the celebration of the birth of the Savior at Christmas, let us remember that God sent the only Son of God to us to show us how to live and how to treat one another, and to die on the cross for us, that in His resurrection from the dead, all our sin is wiped away. Come, Lord Jesus!
(Thanks to Adam Soliz for the “Carl’s Garden” email.)
Grace and Peace to all,
I would like to give a big Thank You to everyone that is helping to make a wonderful Christmas for the CASA family we adopted. It will be truly appreciated.
Our next meeting is scheduled for December 9, at 11:30am, for our annual PW Christmas Luncheon. The ladies from both the Lydia Circle and Iglesia Presbiterinan Hispana have been invited to join us. Dorinne Lykins will be catering the luncheon, and a representative from Rivers of Life will present a short program. Hope to see you there.
Dear Sierra Blancans,
Your voices were heard at the presbytery meeting in Clovis. We are beginning to work on making our website more user friendly beginning in 2014. However, we still need to know how you need to use the site. A new category has been added for news from congregations (church events) and clusters (all areas) to have their information shared on the website.
After it is posted, everyone that is a “registered user” can view & print information as needed. If you have signed up on the website and have used the website you are "registered." If you need to register it is simple- just follow the directions to be a "registered user."Please include the name of your church on you profile information.
Please let the Stated Clerk (firstname.lastname@example.org) or transitional staff member (email@example.com) know when you have things to share with the presbytery. Please allow 5-7 days to get items posted to the website. If your item needs to be posted by the 10th of the month please let us know by the 3rd of that month, if not sooner.
Teaching Elders, Session Clerks, Presbytery Commissioners, please share this information with your congregation members.
May the grace of the Lord be with you all. Have a very Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year!
Transitional office staff
Besides the "Happiest" time of the year, it is also the busiest!! There will be a delay in decorating the church this year. Bill Berkes has said that the Men's Breakfast will feed anyone willing to come help the Fellowship Committee decorate the church on December 7th. The breakfast starts at 7:30 a.m. We will start decorating as soon thereafter as possible. Please come to help and enjoy the company and make the job easier for all. The December Potluck will be on December 15th at 11:00 a. m. It will be our annual "Gift to the Church"day. Bring any supplies that you think might help, i.e. coffee cups, aluminum foil, lemonade, plastic wrap, plates, utensils, napkins and so on.
It’s that time again, time to help out Hungry Harold. He says to start out the year of 2014, he is in need of Kool-Aid and/or Drink Mixes along with Pastas and Dried Pinto Beans. He gives thanks for the many blessings he has received from members and friends of Westminster Presbyterian Church. And he wanted Westminster to know that they are the providers of most of the Community Kitchen’s staple food items each month. May God bless them.
October 27 - 48
November 3 - 52
November 10 - 55
November 17 - 71
November 24 - 41
We finally received the information on our chosen CASA family for Christmas this year! The names have been changed for confidentiality reasons. Please remember the items cannot be wrapped, there will be tubs in the Narthex with names on them for the items to be dropped in. Sunday, December 15th is the cut-off date for collection. The following is from the letter provided by CASA.
“Mom Shelia is raising 3 children on her own. She is very kind and caring about others. She is doing a good job with her children and is very thankful to Westminster for helping her this holiday season.
Leo is a 6 year old boy who likes superheroes and kickball. Leo wears clothing size 8 and shoes size 2. He is a super sweet child and fun to be around.
Ally is a 4 year old princess who also loves princesses. She likes to draw, color and loves books. She wears a size 5T clothing and size 11 in children’s shoes. Ally also likes Barbies.
Gina is actually Mom’s niece. Shelia is raising her out of kindness and love for her. She is 7 years old and wears size 8 clothing, but we were not given a shoe size for her. Gina would be happy with anything as she stated she has not had much in her life.
Mom says she just wants the children to be taken care of. CASA feels she would love some nice toiletries such as scented lotions and/or body wash.
CASA again says thank you for sponsoring this lovely family. Please call our office when the items are ready for pickup. We need them ready by December 15th so they can be wrapped and ready for Christmas delivery.
Thank you again,
Your church library boasts some newly donated books that are wonderfully funny and insightful. One is by Patsy Clairmont. It t is a collection of three books in one, God Uses Cracked Pots, Normal Is Just a Setting on Your Dryer, and Under His Wings. The President of Today’s Family says, “She’s a master at taking the everyday events of life and turning them into everyday lessons on love for our families and the Lord.” In the first, (Cracked Pots,) she introduces it thus: “…examples of God working in our cracked lives. Picture an empty pitcher with a network of cracks down the front. Now imagine that pitcher filled with light and a lid put on the top. Where does the light shine through? The cracks.” Every chapter is hysterical, with a point at the end referring to God’s part in it.
The second, Setting on Your Drye,, she maintains that “Normal…has nothing to do with people. Try as we might, we remain peculiar people with distinct differences.” A blurb on the jacket says, “Prepare yourself for a silly spin through the ridiculous lengths we go to so we can promenade out of the laundry room of appearing normal. Read on and be encouraged; if you’re you,, you’re normal!”
The last one, Under His Wings, has to do with “Hiders, Hideouts, and Hidden Agendas,” with the jacket blurb pointing out that she “helps us understand why and where we try to hide and how to find true safety for our burdened souls.” It is more serious than the other two but does involves a bit of laughing, so it says, “…be prepared to smile and sigh.”
Your librarian has had trouble laying the thing down! So much of it hits the nail right on the head, in such a funny way.
Patsy Clairwood is a regular contributor to the works of “Women of Faith,” which is an organization founded by an author and Evangelistic personality on TV. This work is not to be considered a work of Reformed Faith, but it is great fun to read if you do it with a grain of salt, and it comes to you highly recommended for great reading. It will be available on the Fiction bookshelf when the librarian can let herself log it and put it away.
Another donation, called Older But Wilder (more notes from the pasture), is one of several short novels by Ellie Leland Wilder about “everybody’s favorite busybody, Hattie McNair, and her fellow residents at the Fair-Acres Retirement Home, written in the form of a diary in which Wilder “gently pokes fun at growing older, all the while reflecting on the challenges and losses that seniors face, as well as the special wisdom that can be gained from aging.” From the time she began her writing in 1995 when she was 80 years old, she had been published in Charleston News and Courier and The Saturday Evening Post, and she received several distinguished awards. This book, too, has humor, spirit, and poignancy.
Both books are published by Guideposts. If you read either one, you won’t be sorry!
Check it out!
Anne the Librarian.
The class has just finished the study, ably taught by our visiting instructor, the Reverend Bob Williams, on the New Testament Book of Colossians. Now begins a discussion as to what to take up next. It will likely be a book, a couple of which are already under consideration. It will be chosen by a majority of the group, with each member having a copy to study in advance, and will be moderated by Anne Gravel. The class will convene by 11:00 and end promptly at 12:00, each Sunday after the regular service. All adults are invited to attend.
Dec. 1 - Barbara McNallen
Dec. 8 - Phyllis Lester
Dec. 15 - Loris DeKay
Dec. 22 - Bill Briney
Dec. 29 - Nancy Armstrong
Christmas Eve – Phil Zollars
Again, this year, the Worship committee is taking orders for Christmas Poinsettias. The form below can be printed then mailed along with the $10.00 donation for each flower to:
Westminster Presbyterian Church
2801 W 4th Street
Roswell NM 88201
Please be sure to print out the name(s) of the person/people you wish to make it in honor and/or memory of so that it can be legible.
Donations and forms must be returned to the church by Sunday, December 15, 2013.
The flowers will be put on display beginning December 22 through the end of the year in the Sanctuary.
Dec. 1, 9:30 am. Communion Sunday
Dec. 4. 6:30 pm. Choir Practice
Dec. 6, 3:00 pm. Worship Committee
Dec. 7, 8:00 am. Men’s Breakfast /Decoration of Church
Dec. 8, 11:00 am. Session Meeting
Dec. 9, 11:30 am. PW Luncheon
Dec. 11, 6:30 pm. Choir Practice
Dec. 12, 9:00 am. Comm. Kitchen
Dec. 13. CHIMES Deadline
Dec. 14, 8:00 am. Men’s Breakfast
Dec. 18, 6:30 pm. Choir Practice
Dec. 21, 8:00 am. Men’s Breakfast
Dec. 22. Cents-Ability Collection
Dec, 23, 9:00 am. Piece Maker’s Day
Dec. 24, 7:00 pm. Christmas Eve Svc.
Dec. 25, Christmas Day!
Dec. 26, 9:00 am. Comm. Kitchen
Dec. 28, 8:00 am. Men’s Breakfast
Dec. 29. Food Collection-Community Kitchen
Enid Kelley, Tony Merz,
Abel Esquibel & Goldene Mondragon
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