Thursday, December 4, 2014

The Preacher's Peppermints

When the children tired of playing in the church yard, Leo Norton, our preacher, always had a big pocketful of peppermints for us. Week after week, he teased and laughed with us as we scrambled around him for candy.

If there's a new product with the word peppermint on the wrapper, I'm sold. Maybe it represents love, maybe it represents my childhood, or maybe I just like peppermint, but this year when I lit a new candle scented like peppermint, I laughed. Happy, grateful tears were soaking my face.

That feeling of splashing up out of the waters of baptism and being welcomed by his big tight hug.  His quiet, patient voice as he weekly buried treasures of truth in my little girl mind. The pleasure in his eyes as he handed me an award for camper of the week and said, "Well done, kiddo." The sight of his big hands sliding into giant pockets and pulling out a handful of peppermints.

Many years later, long after his death, I realized it was no accident that every Sunday his pockets were full of peppermints. It took preparation and forethought. As he jotted the word peppermints on a grocery list or as he emptied the bag of candy into his pockets, he smiled and prayed for us. He knew far better than we did the importance of a tiny peppermint candy when God's love is behind it.

By training us to trust him for peppermints, he taught us to trust God's people when we had a need. By training us to see church as a place of fun and wonder, he taught us to be steadfast in our faith. By training us to love and respect him, he taught us to love and respect others.

That pocketful of peppermints was God's love made visible and a preacher's prayers made tangible.

Then Jesus said, "Love one another as I have loved you." 

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