Apr 23, 2012

Sermon Responses

Hebrews 10:32-39

Though his voice may shatter your dreams as the north wind lays waste the garden.
(The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran)

A farmer in the field sees the shadow moving across the land, the shadow is complexity filled:   hope-despair, fear-brave, but then the word became flesh.  As the dark purple cloud moves across his farm rising the dust up in whirling eddies he rests on his shovel.  He rested and all around him he heard the sound of dried wheat stalks swaying in the wind.   Dust tickled his throat.  He coughed.  He held onto his hat made of straw, he feared it would blow away.  All the land was thirsty, but his farmers almanac did not report any rain. The almanac had not said one word about banks calling in bank loans.

The farmer smiled.  He thought of all of the bank notices that were collecting on his kitchen table. The table was dust-filled, he had written S.O.S. in the dust, as a message maybe to a UFO or was it God?  He had borrowed on the banks in order to plant this year's crop. The year before all was wasted. By one hail storm! This year the drought! And still the banks called and called and called and called upon the isolated farmer.  The banks had lent the farmer money, and were now calling about the loan.   The banks not paid, sent yellow foreclosure notes. The official notes laid like a deck of tarot cards played by a psychic at the county fair.  The wood of the table held secrets from forgotten conversations.  Recorded in its wood so long ago.

The horror, of official visits from official representatives of the good old banks, was a serene nightmare.

The land had been with his family for sixty years.  His great grandfather had bought the land in 1866 a year after coming back to the Carolinas.  A year after killing his last soldier in blue.   His great grandfather hoped for a new beginning in Ohio.   A land of promise, a land that was fertile and ready for growing.  The land had been a stage of marriages, burials, and harvest festivals.   A place where one called home.  

The farmer knew his life here in Ohio was endangered. But still the farmer smiled. He joyfully accepted the plundering of his property for he knew what the bible declared, you will have a better possession an abiding one....He knew this land belonged to God. If God's will was to sell the land than so be it, no worries. Even if this meant working at a factory in Cincinnati, or in Cleveland.  He hoped beyond hope that he could move on from here.  But all he knew was the tending of the farm.  He smiled through the broken dreams and gutter swamps of his mind. Because he had an abiding possession that would never fade from Glory.

He looked at his hands and smiled.   Locusts played their legs. He wish he could have seen the sign of the times, he wish he could have seen the seven years of bad, and seven years of good.  He would have sold the farm the year before and have some change in his pockets.  But now all he had was faith in God and a smile that stated, "So be it!"

The wind scooped up the top soil.

This story was based on an idea expressed by Stephen King in his novella 1922 from Full Dark No Stars. I listened to David Martin's sermon this Sunday and combined the ideas of 1922 with the scripture.  I hope y'all like it.

Here's a bit of the history of the Dust Bowl for you:

A Good book to read is The Worst Hard Time by Timothy Egan. History from Wikipedia: The unusually wet period, which encouraged increased settlement and cultivation in the Great Plains, ended in 1930. This was the year in which an extended and severe drought began which caused crops to fail, leaving the plowed fields exposed to wind erosion. The fine soil of the Great Plains was easily eroded and carried east by strong continental winds. On November 11, 1933, a very strong dust storm stripped topsoil from desiccated South Dakota farmlands in just one of a series of bad dust storms that year. Then, beginning on May 9, 1934, a strong, two-day dust storm removed massive amounts of Great Plains topsoil in one of the worst such storms of the Dust Bowl. The dust clouds blew all the way to Chicago, where they deposited 12 million pounds of dust.[9] Two days later, the same storm reached cities in the east, such as Buffalo, Boston, Cleveland, New York City, and Washington, D.C.[10] That winter (1934–1935), red snow fell on New England. On April 14, 1935, known as "Black Sunday", 20 of the worst "black blizzards" occurred throughout the Dust Bowl, causing extensive damage and turning the day to night; witnesses reported they could not see five feet in front of them at certain points.

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