Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Baptism of Jeremiah Luther Johnson

Every so often, as a pastor, you get to do something that almost scares you, because you don't know exactly how you'll handle it. On Sunday 22 October 2012, it was one of those times. I had the priviledge of baptizing my youngest grandchild, Jeremiah Luther Johnson at Shiloh UMC.
We got a large seashell to hold the baptism water and a smaller shell to for pouring the water. Joanne fixed the altar to look like water pouring over the sides.


 During the early part of the service baby Jeremiah was just squealing. I wasn't a mad or upset squeal, he was just sounding off. I told them to pass him up to me and that I would calm him. I immediately realized that that was not a smart decision. But, it worked just fine. I held him through the entire sermon and all he did was chew on my cross.

The pouring and the blessing of the water.

When I started to lean Jeremiah back, he started to get fussy, but as soon as I pured the water he grinned.

Following the baptism, I started to sing "Jesus Loves You" to him, by the time i finished the entire congregation was singing along. Afterall, in the United Methodist Church, baptism involves the entire church.
Immediate and extended Johnson and Allen family.

My father and me.

 Jeremiah and Kate, proud parents.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Pumpkin Hunt at White Fall Farm 2012 Weekend One

Well, it is officially Fall and we're into October, so it must be time for the The Pumpkin Hunt at White Fall Farm. The year Joanne and I agreed to handle the Concession Stand. We got real lucky for our first weekend with the help, because we needed it. Jeremiah and Kate had agreed to help us, so they were there with the kids, Leah and Jeremiah. Our daughter, Courtney, was visiting from New York state with Levi and Lila, they helped too. 

It took us over an hour to get the canopy set up the first Saturday, then we realized we didn't bring the cover. Fortunately there was a spare tarp available. We decided to leave the frame up for the whole month, just taking the cover off each night. We had crock pots and a grill to warm up, coolers to load with drinks and ice, hot dogs to grill, and BBQ to cook. Kate chopped the onions, since Joanne was concerned about me using anything sharp. There were chips, cookies, animal crackers, and Cracker Jacks to set out. Being the first weekend,everything took longer to get arranged and organized.
Leah had her own jug of apple juice that we had to keep putting away and retrieving for her. Levi was a big help unloading boxes and helping with Baby Jeremiah. Levi pushed that baby stroller all around the fields and castle.

Courtney and Joanne did most of the order taking and kept track of the money. I'm not sure they trust me with that either. Kate and I did the hot dog and BBQ prep. The kids had the run of the Pumpkin Hunt, except when they took a break to eat.

Fortunately the first weekend isn't the busiest time. While we had quite a bit of business, we had the chance to get our ducks in row and get a flow going.

The kids and the adults love the wheat box. Imagine a big sandbox, but instead of sand it is full of wheat kernels. When we got home we had about a cup of wheat from what was in the kid's pockets. With a smaller crowd there we felt much more comfortable letting the kids run off to the wheat box, pumpkin painting, the corn maze, or the haybale castle. 

 The kids love the hay bale castle.
They don't just love climbing through the castle, they also love siding down from the third level.
The hay rides required an adult to ride with the smaller children, so all of us took turns riding with the kids. I'm not sure how many rides Levi, Lila, and Leah went on, all I know is they used all of us to ride along with them.
White Fall Farm is peaceful and tranquil. Except for occasionally hearing the tractor start up, all you hear is the wind in the trees, children laughing and squealing, and the farm animals sounds. If it has been awhile since you've experienced something that, come on down and spend the day. Bring a chair, sit on the hay bales under the trees, climb the hay bale castle and sit on the top, soak it all in.

I have never seen such a variety of pumpkins and gourds.

Leah and Lila did the famous Pumpkin Hunt. The Pumpkin Hunt throws hundreds of small pumpkin out in a field. Children are let loose to find as many as they can in a certain amount of time. Then all the kids gather together and count their pumpkins. The child who has found the most in each age group wins a carving pumpkin. Every child walks away with two of the small pumpkins that they found.
In all the times that we've come to the Pumpkin Hunt, I've seen families and generations reconnect. Its just that kind of place. This year it was our turn, we brought our own generations. It really doesn't get much better than this.

While we were disappointed that Courtney's husdand Dave and our two oldest grandchildren, Thomas and Taisie, weren't able to come in for the week; it was a delight to have so much of our family join us at the Pumpkin Hunt. It is nice to be able to share something that has been such a joy for Joanne and me over the last 5 years. My Walt Disney World in Pittsylvania County. You really need to check this out, you really do.

I want to thank Donna Adams, Joanne Johnson, and Courtney Harrington for taking so many of the photos. I really slacked off on my picture taking job. I'll try to do better in the coming weeks.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Pumpkin Hunt 2012

Alright folks, its almost time for what I call my "Walt Disney World in Pittsylvania County". If you haven't been out, you need to, if you have visited before, I know you'll be back. It's every weekend starting September 29 through October 28. Come on and enjoy a bit of heaven.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Shiloh UMC Homecoming 2012

On the 16 th of September, Shiloh UMC had it's 2012 Homecoming (always on the third Sunday of September). We were hoping for a good crowd and we were not disappointed. The attendance quadrupled the previous week. There were folks there that we hadn't seen in years. Some people hadn't seen Joanne or me since we were married at Shiloh UMC over 41 years ago. Can you say "culture shock"?

Normally on Sunday, after the choir sings their special, they exit the choir loft and go to sit in the pews. This Sunday there wasn't enough room for them to come down, so the whole choir stayed in their place and they were all smiles. That is not a problem, that is a very good thing.
The special song, "A Heavenly Celebration", was provided during the service by Alyce Blanks. It is a blessing to have good friends who are so talented, willing, and available to share their talent.
We had a children's message about directions. We talked about how and why we use a GPS or maps. I told them that my favorite map was the one that told me where all the Cracker Barrel restaurants were on the interstate highways. We never leave home without it. Then we moved to how God gives us direction. We talked about how God has given us the Bible to be our life map.
It is incredible how the hymns sound, when you stand as the pastor in the front of a full church. When we sang "Praise Him, Praise Him", it was so powerful, you could feel the energy.
Cheyanne Toms and Emily Love took the children under 5 years old and had a class time with them during the preaching. They had a great time with the kids and we really appreciate their willingness to help.

And of of course, what would Homecoming Sunday be without a lunch after service. We encouraged everyone to stay for lunch and we thnk they all did. The comment was made that they had never been to a covered dish social where they didn't run out of food. "This is neverending food!" I hadn't seen so much food in a long time. It was a literal smorgasbord, more items than I can list. Trust me, no one left hungry.
We knew that we wouldn't have enough seating under the pavillion with the picnic tables. So, the church went and purchased several canopies, put tables and chairs under the canopies, providing extra seating for almost 50 people. When everyone had been served, everyone had a place to sit. Several church members had to be told to get their lunch, because they had been so busy serving others that they had forgotten to feed themselves. Again, not a problem, its a good thing.

We had live entertainment provided during lunch by Janice Perkins and Glen Garrison. That's Glen on the left, set up with guitar, amp, and mic out in the grass.
Family, Friends, and Food
My dad, Charlie Sr., my sister, Karen, me, and my mom, Betty Johnson. Mom went home with a gluten free cake baked especially for her.

Jeremiah, Kate, Leah and baby Jeremiah with Kate's family, her mom, Kackie Allen, her sister, Jane Allen, her sister's baby, Thomas and her boyfriend, Nathan.
We were absolutely surprised to be joined by our friends, Dave and Julie Wright, who live in High Point NC. Dave had messaged me for the directions to the church. I kept my fingers crossed until I saw them walk in the door. We all went to church together years ago and getting together was like we had never been apart. Dave and I served as church deacons (Not UMC Deacons) together, way back when. It was Homecoming part 2.
Baby Jeremiah, Leah, Kate, Aunt Helen, Jeremiah, and Aunt Stella.
Joanne's cousins, Laurie Thomas and Mary Love.
Laurie with her daughter, Chelsie and Mary with her daughter, Emily.
Jeremiah and Kate with Tom and Carrie Castle.

Saturday night, I had a dream that woke me in a sweat. I dreamed that I arrived late to church, found that the parking lot was full and had to park across the road. Just as I was about to enter the sanctuary, I realized that I had left my Bible in the car and I had to run and get it. Then as I stepped into the pulpit, I realized that I had left my sermon at home. When I woke, realizing it was a dream, I knew that no matter what happened it wasn't going to be as bad as that dream. But, I still did double checks that I had everything I needed and that I was on time all morning.

We really want to thank all the members of Shiloh UMC, who worked so hard to make this year's Homecoming such a wonderful day. This was a day to celebrate the church and it's people.


It turned out to be a day beyond what any of us expected. More people, more smiles, more food, more fun, more fellowship, more laughing, more friends, well you get the idea. As things were winding down and people started leaving, we began the work of taking down the canopies, folding up the chairs and tables, and putting it all away. The day had been pleasantly cool and overcast, as we finished the clean up, it began to rain. How about that for perfect timing?

Every so often, you have a day or even a moment, where God reminds you just how much you're loved. This was one of those days. One of our guests made the comment that summed it all up for me. He said, "It looks like you all are having a lot of fun here". Yeah, that's right, we go to church and we have fun.