Last Sunday's sermon opened with the question, "How many of you have ever seen a Thomas Kincaid painting?" I then went on to describe how Thomas Kincaid is known as the "Painter of Light". I told them about going to a Thomas Kincaid gallery in Omaha, Nebraska. There they had the paintings hanging on the walls with track lighting above each painting. The track lighting was controlled with dimmer switches on the wall and the viewer could play with the lighting on the painting. By changing the intensity of the light you could change the appearance of the painting. I told them how much I enjoyed playing the the lighting.This was all the introduction to the sermon titled "Testifying to the Light, from the text of John 1:6-8.
When I asked the opening question maybe two members at Providence UMC sheepishly raised their hands, acknowledging that they had seen a Thomas Kincaid painting. But, during the entire sermon, as I continually returned to mention Kincaid's use of light making the painting seem new, the majority of the congregation at Providence had grins on their faces. My thought was that I must be doing a good sermon and everyone was enjoying the message.
After the Sunday service at our third church, Joanne and I returned to Providence UMC for the dedication of their new Fellowship Hall and their annual Christmas lunch. When we arrived everyone was in the new building and waiting. I asked if they would like to have the dedication first before we ate. They all said, "No, let's do the present first." We had no idea what they were talking about until they pulled out a gift wrapped box and handed it to the both of us.
We opened the box to a big surprise. Everyone broke out in laughter and cheers. What everyone had been grinning about during the sermon was not my eloquence, but that they we giving us a Thomas Kincaid print on canvas, mounted and ready to hang. They said at first they were afraid I had known about the gift, but it became clear that I was oblivious. They kept a very good secret.
If you can click on the picture and enlarge it you'll see that it is a painting of Snow White walking towards the 7 Dwarfs cottage. They know that my favorite Disney movie is "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs". They also know that our grandchildren call me "Grumpy" (a mispronunciation of Grampy, a grandfather endearment name; not a statement about my normal attitude).
This was a Delightful and loving gift. I sat yesterday holding the picture, thinking about the love and generosity of it. Also thinking about my loving God, who set me up so well that morning to receive the gift. God must love us a lot to have sent us to these three churches of the Mount Airy Charge. May God prepare you and your heart for the gift that is planned for you.