A Brick in the Valley

A Slice of Stillman Valley
February 3, 2008, 3:04 am
Filed under: The Red Brick Church

Eugene Peterson wrote in Under the Unpredictable Plant that pastoral visits are:

. . . occasions for original research on the stories being shaped in their lives by the living Christ.  I go to these appointments with the same diligence and curiousity that I bring to a page of Isaiah’s oracles, a tangled argument in St. Paul . . .

 I love doing the original research of studying the lives of our people.  Exegeting the stories of our small town is one of my greatest joys.  I wrote the following newsletter article after a visit last week.

For the Red Brick Newsletter – – 2/1/08 

You probably don’t think of the Hardware store in Stillman Valley as a real romantic spot.  But, there are stories everywhere in a small town.

In the first place, I didn’t realize that the hardware store used to be a factory.  But, I was visiting with a lady in our church last week and she told me she met her husband when they were both working there and it was a factory at the time.

In fact, when her husband asked her for their first date, it was at work and everyone stopped their machines and watched while he asked her out.

I didn’t think to ask what they made at the hardware store when it was a factory. 

So, Joe and Susie’s (not their real names) first date was at a dance at Kings (for those who are new, it’s an even smaller town down on 64 where the John Deere dealership is located).  And, when they walked into the dance, Susie’s brother yelled so everyone could hear, “Hey, who’s that with Susie?”  I estimate that her brother yelled that over 60 years ago, but Susie hasn’t forgotten it.

They were married inside a year in her parent’s home – – I think in Monroe Center – – And, they had to borrow Susie’s parent’s car for the honeymoon.  Joe’s wasn’t running. 

If you figure out who Susie is, then ask to see the beautiful picture of her family in her kitchen.  It all started right there where Stanton is selling lock washers. 

And, the next time you pick up a garden hose at the Hardware store (they come in on Thursday) realize that you’re in a romantic spot.

If you’re single, maybe start hanging out in the hardware store.  And, if they’re still having dances out in Kings try that out as well.

And, seriously, remember that stories are one of our greatest treasures.  All of history is one great story: a meta-narrative theologians call it.  Humanity has rebelled, but God is redeeming for Himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good (Titus 2:14).  Within that one grand story, all our individual lives intersect and overlap and cross over with one another and form one great fabric.

You are a strand in that fabric, if indeed you belong to Christ (1 Corinthians 15:1-3).  And, your story is a treasure, even if you have never been asked for a date in a factory that is now a hardware store.


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