At the Table

 I’m reminded of your authentic faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice. I’m sure that this faith is also inside you (2 Timothy 1:5, Common English Bible).

This is part 7 in the November Thanksgiving series, “Pass the…” for a listing on the other posts please see the index.

OK, I messed up. It isn’t the first time and I am pretty sure it won’t be the last time either. I got ahead of myself. This post was supposed to have gone out yesterday and “Pass the…Water” was the entry for today. So, since you already have it, the only thing left to do is to remember those no longer at the table today.

I know, I have deviated from my naming scheme for the month but it seemed to me that on either All Saints Day (November 1) or All Saints Sunday (November 6) would be a good time to talk a little about the people who I can remember used to sit at our Thanksgiving table and are no longer there. These are the great Saints of my family.

Of course, I begin with my dad. We haven’t celebrated a Thanksgiving without him before so this year will be difficult. Over the years I can remember him doing all kinds of things to help my mother get ready for the family that would gather in my parent’s home. I have vivid memories of Dad carving the turkey, always before the meal, never at the table (I am not saying either way is a bad thing, just what I remember). My dad was one who, as I remember it, thought the table was more that a place to sit down and refuel. It was a place to share in the family joy. There were jokes, laughter and stories.  All to the constant hum of requests to pass more food.

A little less than half the Thanksgivings in my adult life (some, for various reasons, Cindy, our boys and I spent on our own without the rest of the family) were spent with Cindy’s family. Prior to Thanksgiving a year ago, we lost Cindy’s dad, Mearl Oquinn. In many ways, Mearl and my dad were a lot alike. Laughter and stories were always a part of the dinner table, whether at Thanksgiving or some other time of the year. There are two things I remember from years of sitting at Mearl’s dinner table (though in truth, these may not have happened at Thanksgiving). First, when Wayne and Christopher were young, and as parents will often do, I would tell them they had to eat this or that, or at least X quantity of this or that if they wanted the dessert. Unbeknown to me, if one of the boys were sitting next to him he would sneak bites off their plate in an effort to help them get to dessert. I didn’t know this happened until both the boys were grown. I feel certain, as Mearl is looking down at me typing this now, he is having a good laugh. The other thing I remember was, seconds were dictated by things coming out even. If there were still potatoes left on his plate, Mearl had to have more roast so everything would come out even. It was just another example of him wanting everyone to have a good time.

A third person I remember at the table from Thanksgivings past, who had an impact on my life was my paternal grandmother, Maud Broyles, Granny. Granny wasn’t there all the time for Thanksgiving. Still, when she was there, she was going to be in the kitchen, helping get it all underway. Thanksgiving was going to come off without a hitch if she had anything to say about. Granny was going to be involved in the mechanics of the day.

Another member of the table of past Thanksgivings was my maternal grandfather Hilton Seale, PaPaw. PaPaw was one of the quiet men in my life. If you know me, you know that isn’t something I got from him. We would be like light and dark. He was always quiet and far more of then that not, I will still find ways of getting my mouth into the conversation. The other thing I remember about him is, he liked to play “Shanghai Rummy.” And, he was good. He would sit there so quiet while everyone around him was getting into the game, he was looking for a way to close out the hand. He often found it. As soon as dinner was over and the dishes cleared away.

I can also remember back to my Uncle Danny. The big thing I remember about him was that he not only had to live in it at the time, he also had an old Volkswagon. It was one of the first time I had ever been used in the ways I would use it. I learned to drive a standard a transmission that day. We drove that car all over the property. I would imagine I ate a pretty good meal too.

The last person I am going to talk about today is one I really don’t remember, my paternal grandfather, Oscar Broyles. I don’t remember him very well because he died when I was about two. Still, he was another at the table during my life who is now gone home.

I know there are others. There were family friends like Al and Pat Thompson and their daughter Dorothe as well as Otis and Denver White and their son Kenneth. Hank Turner was another friend who was so close they could just about be family.

In my churches, over the years, on All Saints Sunday we also celebrate the new lives among us. In that way, I would have to remember my grandkids, Kaleb, Noah, Jenna, Jaxon and Natalie. I think Kaleb may be the only one I have gotten  to celebrate Thanksgiving with during his short life.

All this is to say, Thanksgiving isn’t just about the food. It is also to be thankful for the people who gather at the table. In our lesson, Paul reminds Timothy of the faith found in, first his grandmother Lois and also in his mother Eunice. Undoubtedly, they would be people who would be part of Timothy’s family Thanksgiving celebration. Paul reminds Timothy that these two ladies paved the way for his life in faith.

The people I have talked about paved the way for mine. I feel certain that you can think back over the years of your own life and think of a number of people who were sometimes at the table for Thanksgiving and now celebrate the great day eternally, face to face with God. These people helped make Thanksgiving real and alive for us. Without them, the day just wouldn’t be the same. I trust that as you think on it, you too can have fond memories of those who surrounded you at the table.

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

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s