This story takes place a long time ago in the back of the county, the year was 1911. It was along a gravel road that traveled up a hollow that led to a small cove nearly hidden from the world. The cove reminded you of a grass covered bowl with smooth hills on three sides. In the center sat a small white washed church. There was no sign in front telling the church’s name. A member once responded when asked about its religious affiliation, “No denomination” just the Good Book and friends gathering together. We reckon the Lord is with us and he ain’t wanted to know our affiliation as far as I be’a knowin’.”
It was built so it always faced the sun, no matter the season of the year. It was not a big church, but just big enough for the two dozen members who attended each Sunday morning.
Throughout the year, the small church’s seats were filled on a few special occasions. Easter morning always saw a full congregation for the morning services. Ladies dressed in their finest and men wore ties that were uncomfortable around their necks. But the gathering that seemed to draw the most people was the service on Thanksgiving Eve. You see, the church was not only a place for Sunday service, it also served as a gathering place for special occasions. The yearly gathering was looked forward to by all. First, a grand dinner was prepared for members to enjoy in fellowship. After the meal, Preacher Jenkins would remind them of the many gifts in life they each needed to be thankful for.
At the Sunday service a few days before the Thanksgiving gathering, Preacher Jenkins was finishing a rousing sermon about the benefits of studying the Good Book. He looked out over his congregation, he noticed several of the men with their heads down and arms folded across their stomachs. Obviously they were sleeping and not listing to the sermon.
It didn’t take long until the women folk realized Preacher Jenkins taking notice of their sleeping men. As the wives elbowed their husbands in their ribs, startled grunts could be heard in the quiet of the church.
Preacher Jenkins closed his Bible and folded his hands as he looked out over his congregation. They sensed he had something to say. “My friends, you see written on the chalk board a list of passages I would like for you to study before our Thanksgiving Eve gathering. Passages that can help you to better understand the ministry I speak about. But?I have begun to believe, only the ladies of the congregation make the effort to study and know the meaning of those texts. Well, this week I’ve given the men the passages to study for a reason. I hope you’ll be taking the time to be studying them before our Wednesday gathering.”
Preacher Jenkins stepped around the small table that served as a podium and came closer to his congregation. “Now, I will know, when I stand before you at our Thanksgiving dinner those that did not hear my words, and ladies? let your men folk do the studying. You’ll understand my reasoning when they study the words.”
A couple of wives whispered the preacher’s instructions to their husbands. The men cleared their eyes and began writing down the passages listed on the board. The congregation sang one last song and were dismissed for the morning.
The next evening, Preacher Jenkins was preparing his Thanksgiving sermon. He looked out the window at the small church that sat across from the parsonage, he wondered, did his words make any difference at all to them that sat in his congregation each Sunday? Did his flock come because they were expected too? Or did they come because their souls needed guidance? He wonders as he looks at the church in the fading evening light. He hoped the Thanksgiving gathering would give him some answers.
Wednesday came and the small church was filled with laughter and the smell of turkey and pumpkin pie. The last rays of the sun shone through windows as the congregation sat down to take part in the annual feast. Preacher Jenkins stood at the head of the make shift table and looked at his friends gathered together. He opened his bible and pointed to one of the passages he had written on the board, then he began to read, “Let us come into His presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to Him with song and praise! Psalm 95:2” When he finished, he slid his glasses down on his nose as he took but a moment to study each face. “For those of you who heeded my instructions and studied the passages on the board, you know these words. But, if you did not, you have missed the meaning of the gathering tonight.”
Most had smiles on their faces as they listened to the preacher’s words. But, half ways down the table Jessie Hoskins sat staring at the green beans with a somber face. Near the end of the table, Thomas Huckleberry looked a little nervous. The preacher smiled and closed his bible with a soft sound. He looked first at Jessie, “How was it?” Without waiting for an answer he looked at Thomas, “Did you enjoy yours?” The two men were bewildered by the questions. Never before had the preacher called upon them to answer questions.
Brother Jessie asked, “Preacher Jenkins, I’d not be a known’ what your askin’.” Preacher placed his hand on Homer Cecil shoulder as he asked, “Brother Homer, how was yours?” He smiled as he said, “It were downright delicious Preacher. We brung you a slice and will be pleased to give it to you after prayers this evenin’.”
Preacher Jenkins went to the black board and began to tell the gathering about the words from the scriptures passages, cup Genesis 18.8; 1 cup Jeremiah 6:20; 5 Isaiah 10:14 (Separate); 3 cups shifted Leviticus 24:5; 3 teaspoons 2 Kings 2:20; 3 teaspoons Amos 4:5; 1 teaspoon Exodus 30:23; teaspoon each 2 Chronicles 9:9; cup Judges 4:19; cup Genesis 43:11; cup finely cut Jeremiah 24:5; cup 2 Samuel 16:1; Whole Genesis 43:11.
When he finished he turned to his congregation. “If you studied the passages, you know they were half of a recipe. They referred you to ingredients needed to complete the recipe. I’m sure your wives were so pleased you men spent time readin’ the Good Book, they baked what is known as a scripture cake.” He dusted the chalk from his hands and paused looking at his flock.
He held up the worn Bible. “The words are here for you to read. They are here to help us understand the path we each must take in this difficult life. And like the passages containing the recipe for the cake, it will also give you the recipe to save your souls. All it takes is for you to mix them with your daily life and fill your heart with the joy they can bring. If you do this, then the day will come when you will sit at the table of the Lord and share the cake with him and all those who in life followed the recipe. Now, I’ll be expectin’ a piece of those fine cakes after our meal.”
That Thanksgiving Eve, the small congregation enjoyed a lesson in faith and a piece of cake, even Jessie and Thomas. It was only a small church that sat in the cove on the warm side of the hill. It had no denomination. But, it was filled with those who understood the recipe for God’s Scripture Cake as they gave thanks for the blessings in life. May your Thanksgiving be filled with happiness and enjoyed with family and friends as we look Through the Lens.