Archives for February 2015
Text: Mark 1:29-39
My great grandmother, Lela Mode Floyd (known to the locals as Ma Floyd), was a master storyteller. Born on October 31, 1899 she was 92 years old when she died on November 4, 1991. What she lacked in physical stature—she stood about four feet tall and, wet, weighed about ninety-five pounds—she more than made up in character and spunk. Growing up I spent a lot of time with my great grandmother as she lived less than two miles from my childhood home. Many of the stories that are still told of Ma Floyd I knew first hand. I was 28 years old when she died and was honored to speak at her funeral.
As I said, Ma Floyd was a master storyteller. Writer Abbie Anthony a columnist for the local paper, The Shelby Star, would often write about Ma Floyd in her columns. Abbie once wrote of my great grandmother, “Like most octogenarians, Ma Floyd can reach into her memory, grab hold of a thread, and pull out a yarn. Her remembrances are filled with humor, colloquialisms, and ‘Ma Floyd witticisms’. She has survived close to a century and remained virtually unchanged in spite of the turmoil about. She is a bit of history.”
One of my favorite stories that Abbie wrote about was titled, “Ma Floyd, The Flying Devil And The School Bus.” I knew the story of the Flying Devil long before it appeared in print in the local paper as I had sat at my great grandmother’s knee and heard her tell it—gestures and all. The story takes place when Ma was 8 years old and it goes like this.
There was a sawmill in operation over in the hollow below the house where she and her family lived. She and the other young’uns would sneak down to the sawmill and watch the sawdust flying way up high. Later when their daddy found out, he scolded them, ending with a warning, “Stay away from the sawmill ‘cause there’s a ‘flying devil’ loose down there and it’ll get ya!” After that they were scared and didn’t dare go back.
Then on an early spring day when Lela and Grancer (her brother) were home alone, a neighbor asked her if she’d look after her 2-year-old. Later, needing something to do, Lela thought that the strawberries might be turning so she decided to go to the patch and find the baby a ripe one to eat. So carrying the child on her back, Lela set out to look for berries. She set the baby down and searched, but couldn’t find any among the blossoms. Just as she had given up finding a ripe berry she looked up and saw something coming down the road. It was a little one-seated thing without a top on it. It was RED and it looked like a man was sitting in it and a bell was ringing. Fear grabbed her very being. It is the “Flying Devil” she shouted! Ma clutched that baby up piggyback and flew toward the house, running so hard she couldn’t catch her breath. Finally she reached the safety of the porch and collapsed on it, face down with the young’un lying on her back. Exhausted, she crawled inside the door. Grancer took one look and said, “What on earth is wrong, Lela?” “I seen the Flying Devil” she gasped. To which Grancer said, “That ain’t a flying devil. It is Bailey Mauney driving his new acquisition, the only automobile in the community, over to show it off to Walter Lattimore.
Ma would end that story saying, “And that is the day that I saw my very first car! Until she died, she would call cars, “the flying devils.”
This past Sunday marked Pullen’s annual focus on peacemaking in our worship service. The Call to Worship involved a litany of convictions and affirmations shared by three members of our church’s Peace & Justice Mission Group. Several people have asked for a copy, so we are sharing it here.
Text: I Corinthians 8:1-13
On the morning of October 14, 1964, Martin Luther King, sleeping in an Atlanta hospital room after checking in for a rest, was awakened by a phone call from his wife, Coretta Scott King, telling him that he had been awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace. Although many in the United States and abroad praised the selection, segregationist Eugene “Bull” Connor called it “scraping the bottom of the barrel.” Presenting the award to Dr. King in Oslo, Norway, that December, the chairman of the Nobel Committee praised Dr. King for being “the first person in the Western world to have shown us that a struggle can be waged without violence. His is the first to make the message of brotherly love a reality in the course of his struggle, and he has brought this message to all men, to all nations and races.”
In his speech accepting the award, Dr. King said, “We’ve been in the mountain of war. We’ve been in the mountain of violence. We’ve been in the mountain of hatred long enough. It is necessary to move on now, but only by moving out of this mountain can we move to the promised land of justice and brotherhood and the Kingdom of God. It all boils down to the fact that we must never allow ourselves to become satisfied with unattained goals. We must always maintain a kind of divine discontent.”
I want to use Dr. King’s words this morning to talk with you for a few minutes about peace. And in so doing, I want to talk about the idols of peace that I believe we have created, at least in the Western world, and how those idols are actually keeping us from realizing the ideals of peace.
When it comes to the great architects of peace—Jesus, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Mother Teresa, Tolstoy—if you read their writings you will find that they all have one thing in common. They all believed in the possibility of a world where there was the absence of violence. Not the absence of conflict. Not the absence of difference or difficulty. But the absence of violence. It was an ideal that they held as a conviction from their faith traditions and an ideal that they were willing to sacrifice their bodies and their very lives for.