A Pastor’s Thanksgiving Reminder, Chapter 30
Several unfamiliar faces filled the sanctuary pews Wednesday evening. Only the Arians were absent among our circle of friends. They left town earlier that day headed to their family’s home on Saint Simons Island. Nick and Joe said they wanted their family to enjoy the house for a few days before deciding whether or not to sell Momma Arians beloved vacation home. Fortunately, Megan and Andy’s arrival overshadowed the absence of the Arians family.
Before the service began, Andy, Pete, Jay, and Jim cracked jokes with one another just like when we first moved to Shiloh a year earlier. Hal helped Hillary and Judy tend to the young children filling the front two rows. Phillip settled in between Megan and Jeannie.
Silence filled the sanctuary when Arnie rose from his chair. Choir members watched from their seats behind as Arnie gripped the pulpit and smiled.
“I look out at all the familiar and new faces and stand before you humbled. This service marks the twenty-sixth Thanksgiving Eve service I’ve shared with you or at least those old enough to remember back that far.” He stared at Judy and Hillary. “In another three weeks, Judy, Hillary, and I will also witness our twenty-sixth Christmas in Shiloh pageant as well. Sadly, this will be the first one without the Honorable Harold Archer presiding. This year, our new mayor, the Honorable Henry ‘Hal’ Archer, will preside in his place.” Arnie motioned to Hal to join him on the platform.
“Thank you, Doctor Wright. I’m quite nervous about filling my father’s large shoes this year and will certainly miss his supportive smile the few times I had the privilege of speaking on behalf of the city. This edition of Christmas in Shiloh will kickoff the seventeenth, the Wednesday preceding Christmas Eve. All the decorations on Main Street and Town Square are ready to welcome the arrival of another magnificent Christmas tree to be lit that first night. We have a special night of music planned, and I received confirmation from the North Pole this morning that Santa will once again be with us.” Hal focused on the young faces smiling up at him. “I hope to see all of you and lots of your friends there.”
Arnie’s message spoke about how thankful we should feel this year because of God’s greatness. He stood over his open Bible and read from the 145th Psalm. “This timeless passage speaks of God’s goodness, greatness, and graciousness. Over this past year, God manifested himself right here in our community, changing many lives forever. Maybe we got a bit sidetracked in recent years by tragic events, but that didn’t mean God stopped working in our hearts.” Arnie panned the room as he stepped away from the pulpit.
“There are two related questions I’d like to offer this Thanksgiving Eve to each of you. How have you over the course of this past year testified to the Lord’s goodness, greatness, and graciousness in your daily life and in the lives of your family members? How have you offered him the praise of thanks he deserves? Please bow your heads and allow your hearts to silently speak with God as you feel led.”
Arnie broke the silence with a pastoral voice. “The apostle Paul wrote: ‘Is there injustice with God? Of course not! He shows mercy upon those whom he chooses to show mercy, and he offers compassion upon whomever he chooses to show compassion. God’s mercy and compassion do not depend upon our will or effort, but on God alone.’ May we all find a reason to give thanks to God this Thanksgiving. Amen.”
I raised my head as Liddy squeezed my hand and smiled. Beside Liddy, John and Marie shared tears. In front of us, Sam, Susanna, Megan, and Andy hugged one another as smiles erupted. Jeannie leaned close to her mother and they exchanged whispers. Jeannie beamed and immediately turned and embraced Megan.
Liddy nudged me and asked, “What’s going on with them?”
“Beats me. I haven’t seen Sam smile like that before.”
Liddy scooted from our pew first and pulled Susanna aside. They whispered back and forth. Liddy walked back with a smug grin and whispered, “It’s a secret until tomorrow at their house, but Megan’s pregnant.”
“But, how? Doc Lucas told her last year she couldn’t.” I stuttered.
“That’s why doctors practice medicine, and God is God, I guess. Now don’t say a word. They’re not going to tell Pete until later tonight. They’re afraid he’ll blurt it to the whole world before Andy and Megan can make an announcement at their house.”
Hal stood beside Phillip, Hillary, and Judy near the main entrance door while Arnie greeted the last few members and their guests as they left.
I approached Hal. “Didn’t get a chance to talk to you before the service. Hank get home okay?”
“I picked him up this afternoon. He’s been spending most his time talking with Dixie since he got settled. We left them laughing and talking on the veranda when Phillip and I left for church. Guess he’s become her new center of attention.”
“Did you ask them about tomorrow?”
“They’ll be there.” Hal’s hands-in-pocket pose and wrinkled grin reminded me of when I first met him in church standing in the shadow of his dominant, older brother.
Testament lies in the middle of the Shiloh Trilogy-a Story Where Old and New Families Converge
“Because this is the second book, I really have had a good chance to see in my mind the whole town which culminates with its Christmas in Shiloh celebrations. This is what I like to call “the joining,” a coming together of the community. Roots have been planted deep for Theo and Liddy and they plan on staying and working in the town, helping others, whether it be Theo writing more articles for the paper or Liddy teaching at the school.
“I am giving the book a 5 star rating . I believe that the author did an amazing job putting this book together, drawing pictures and scenarios to motivate our minds and leaving room in case another book comes along. Going back to Shiloh felt like being home again.” A review by Debra Morgan
“Testament is another outstanding novel by author T. M. Brown. It’s a page-turning mystery, with plenty of suspense. I have read this author’s previous novel Sanctuary and enjoyed it very much. But I like Testament even more. It has a more in-depth level of mystery and intrigue. Good plot twists that will keep you guessing until the end. The book revolves around people living in Shiloh, a small town in south Georgia. We met these characters in the previous book, although some new characters are also involved. If you enjoy reading mysteries, you will love Testament. A great read.” Lee Gimenez, Best Selling Author
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