Pass the… Car Keys

Let them offer thanksgiving sacrifices and declare what God has done in songs of joy! (Psalm 107:22, Common English Bible)

This is part 4 in the November Thanksgiving series, “Pass the…” for a listing on the other posts please see the index.

One of my favorite Thanksgiving memories came courtesy of my father-in-law, the late Mearl Oquinn Jr.

I don’t remember the year but of course we arrived at my in-laws early. Just about as quickly as we walked in the door Mearl handed me his car keys and just said, “Keith, Come on. Let’s go.” While the “request” was a bit unusual, it wasn’t totally unheard of either so I didn’t ask any questions and kept my winter coat on and walked right back out the door Cindy, the boys and I had just come in.

Once we were outside I said, “Are you sure you don’t want to drive? You know where we are are going.”

Mearl just said, “No, you drive. Take us up to the church.” While I don’t remember the year, I am pretty sure I was already in ministry. Even if I wasn’t, we attended different churches. Beyond that, we were in a town with several pages of churches in the Yellow Pages. Still, there was never a question in my mind where he intended for us to go. So, we got in his truck and headed to “the church.”

I still didn’t know why we were going there but getting an ice chest of ice or borrowing a fellowship hall table and some chairs were real possibilities.  When we arrived at the church there were several cars there already. I did think that was unusual for Thanksgiving morning. Mearl told me to pull in and park close to the Fellowship Hall.

Once inside I saw Cindy’s oldest brother Jimmy inside. There were a few other people I knew. Then one of the church leaders began to speak. “If ‘Meals-on-Wheels’ drivers take Thanksgiving Day off, that would mean no food for their clients. We are stepping in to fill the gap. By each of us making a few stops, ‘Meals on Wheels’ clients still get their food and the drivers get a much deserved day off.”

Mearl and I got into a line. We got the names and addresses of four clients and an “ice chest” with the appropriate number of hot meals in it. Then we started out to make our deliveries.

There is nothing like stepping out to meet a need to remind you to first, be thankful of all you have and second, to realize just how blessed you are.

That day I was thankful for the opportunity to serve. This opportunity reminded me of my many blessings, one of which was that I had a family I could gather with to celebrate the blessings God gives to us. Some of these folks didn’t even have that. Other than perhaps the food in their delivered meal, Thanksgiving was just like any other day.

What sticks out the loudest for me, however, is how thankful each client was that day. At a time when they could have been bitter or angry for the lousy hand life had dealt them, these folks were thankful not only for the meal, they were thankful to me for having brought the food do them.

Our lesson today reminds us to offer thanksgiving sacrifices. I guess you could say that I was doing that but in retrospect, it just doesn’t seem like much of a sacrifice. Still, it makes my heart glad to sing this song of joy!

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Grace and Peace,

Copyright 2016, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved


Spirita Spiro (Esperanza for "Spirit's Breath) is rather new in my life. But the blog is not. I began writing a blog several years ago. It lived under the title, "The Pastor Ponders." Over the years I have tried several different names and "The Pastor Ponders" always seemed to fit best. I am trying again with Spirita Spiro. For 27 years I was a full-time pastor in the United Methodist Church. This year, August 2018, I semi-retired (I can't actually retire quite yet) and began teaching social studies. It is something I have always wanted to do and if I was going to do this, I needed to make it sooner rather than later. So, I made the move. I thought with the career change there also needed to be a name change to the blog and other things, such as spiritual direction. Spirita Spiro is my attempt to share some of my thoughts. I often share what I am thinking with my dog "Bishop," but he keeps his thoughts to himself. He will even go to sleep sometimes while I am sharing my thoughts with him. The truth is, if it doesn't involve getting his ears scratched, his belly rubbed or some kind of treat, he really doesn't care. I will say this for him, he never argues with me or tells me I am wrong. So, I decided to share some of my thoughts with whoever might come across this blog in their ramblings around the Internet. I live with my wife Cindy and our little dog in Lufkin, Texas. I spent the past 27 years as a full-time United Methodist pastor. Most recently I served as pastor of First United Methodist Church in Sweeny, Texas. I have also served United Methodist congregations throughout East Texas including rural Madison County (Elwood UMC), Lovelady (First UMC) and Kennard (Center Hill UMC), Canton (First UMC), rural Smith County (Mt. Sylvan UMC and Union Chapel UMC), Grapeland (First UMC), Tyler (Pleasant Retreat UMC), Santa Fe (Aldersgate UMC), Freeport (First UMC) and Oyster Creek (Oyster Creek UMC), Diboll (First UMC), and now Sweeny (First UMC). My wife Cindy and I have been married for over 40 years. We have two grown sons. Wayne and his wife Nikki and all our grandsons (Kaleb, Noah, and Jaxon) live in Southern California. Christopher and his wife Morgan and both our granddaughters (Jenna and Natalie) live in Tyler Texas. I enjoy preaching and all aspects of preaching from research to writing to the actual preaching event. I also love writing, reading, playing the guitar as well as a bit of drawing. I have spent quite a bit of time over the past two years working with paracord on various projects, mostly prayer ropes I usually give away. I sing bass with a local barbershop chorus called The Coastalaires. I have also recently begun doing a little wood carving. I also enjoy playing with Bishop, something he likes a great deal better than listening to my thoughts. I hold an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Business Data Processing, specializing in Microcomputers from San Jacinto College in Pasadena, Texas, a Bachelor of Science in Political Science with a minor in History from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX, a Master of Divinity from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX and a Doctor of Ministry from Carolina University of Theology. When I was a student at Carolina, the school was in Iron Station North Carolina. They have since relocated to Manassas Virginia (Yeah, go figure, a school named Carolina geographically in Virginia). This blog is mostly devotional writing, but there are other things here too. Just about every week I will either post my sermon manuscript or a video of the worship service. On occasion, I will post something I see in society. Occasionally I write a short story, a poem, or a song and will post it here too. I will say this, my motivations for writing this blog are really selfish. I write it to get what I am thinking out of my head and onto something a bit more permanent. They say, after all, once something is on the internet it never really goes away. Still, I hope you enjoy reading it. And, should you desire, you can one-up Bishop and actually tell me what you think. Who knows, it might generate a bit of discussion between you and me and anyone else who might make their way here. With Joy and Thankfulness, Keith Sweeny, Texas May 2018

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