I suppose my dad would be glad to know that I remember a few snippets from the hundreds of sermons I heard him preach as I was growing up. I can even remember a quote or two from my Sunday School teachers. But some of my richest memories of admonition from my formative years aren’t from church; they’re from the farming fields of West Kentucky.
A. V. Sims and Hoyt Fray Adams discussed scripture and its applications while we cut dark-fired tobacco under a blistering sun. From different perspectives—A. V. was a Methodist Sunday School teacher and Hoyt Fray was a member of the Soldier Creek Primitive Baptist Church—they stressed the importance of truth, the divinity of Christ and the authority of scriptures. They were in total agreement that living by the teachings of Jesus transcended denominational affiliation and doctrinal affirmation.
Especially vivid was A.V.’s statement: “I’ve lived around Methodists, I’ve lived around Baptists, I’ve lived around Church of Christ’s, and I’ve lived around Catholics. When it takes, it takes and when it don’t, it don’t.” Hard to argue against that sort of theology.
We don’t have to be in a church building or a church meeting to share wisdom and admonition. In fact, there’s a good chance that it’s in the other settings of our lives that we will have the richest opportunities to encourage others to walk in the Light. Standing in the kitchen, sitting in the living room, driving across town together, sharing a cup of coffee somewhere, working on a weekend project alongside each other. Incidents and opportunities for meaningful admonition.
It’s been nearly fifty years since those tobacco patch conversations but their influence is still living in me.
My grandfather, Lawson Lee Bryant, was a Primitive Baptist elder, and my dad grew up in that church in Excelsior Springs, Missouri.