Wesley Edwards, who "crossed over the river" this past Saturday, May 10, age 77, enjoyed writing and shared several meaningful devotions with us in the annual Crescent Hill Advent booklets which are posted below. I saw him just three weeks ago at Kroger and asked him if he'd written any more poems or essays. He said, "No, not yet." Now, he's in a position to inspire us to pick up our own pens and carry on his legacy. Thank you Wesley. -- John Arnett
December 5, 1983
Worldly calm is often interrupted. A young child sometimes feels displaced by a new baby. Changes at school or work disrupt us. A broken air conditioner or dishwasher alters our domestic lifestyle. Both farmers and resort operators depend upon favorable weather. We are anxious when a fledgling bird is learning to hop about, and hope its wings will mature before it is caught by a predator. Our peace of mind is disturbed by political and economic turmoil in Central America and the Middle East.
Peace comes in knowing that God sent His Son Jesus to reassure us of the newness of life. He grew to manhood to help us to understand the trials and tribulations of this world, while offering us God's peace that lasts and sustains us in facing all our concerns, fears, and anxieties. Peace: an inner serenity amidst the storms of life.
Just as you gave Mary and Joseph peace to sustain them during Jesus' childhood, make us aware of your presence wherever we are. Amen.
December 15, 1983
One of our family joys is feeding the birds, especially the cardinals. Even in the summer I put out small amounts of sunflower seeds, often on demand. The cardinals have learned that I am the dispenser of these delicacies. During early summer, upon seeing me leave the house or come home via the garage they follow and chirp at a close distance in the tree branches above, often being only a few feet away. Once they were eating, they would sometimes continue to chirp as if to express gratitude.
In the same way, we need to express our special gratitude to God, who knows we have special needs and are possessed of an inner hunger. Jesus came to fill that need. Among other ways, we express our joy at His coming with hymns of praise and thanksgiving. Somehow, I like to think there were birds present at His birth. Are they not still singing His praise?
O God; as we take joy in Christmas and nature around us, help us to know You are the provider.
December 22, 1985
One of my favorite memories of Disney World is the journey through "It's a Small, Small World," during which the dolls and characters sing the entire song. We did not really need the rain as an excuse to experience that event again. The tune, the words, and the animation were so appealing. All the characters of the various cultures around the world seemed to flow together like rivers into an ocean. I can still see the dolls curtseying, waving, smiling, and charming us as our boat eased by them.
If we are moved by a Disney fantasy, how much more must we be moved by the reality of God's coming to this "small, small world" in the person of the Christ Child? God's love flowed from heaven so that all of His children everywhere might know that this world is small enough for Him to love and care for us all. The reality of Jesus beckons all cultures to embrace Him and each other, in affirming that "It's a Small, Small World."
God, help us remember that Jesus came for all the world and that we are all Your children. Amen.
December 6, 1988
When did my traditions formulate? Was it with parents or visiting with grandparents in rural Georgia? Is it the now with Crescent Hill family, particularly our preschoolers as they participate in the Hanging of the Greens service?
Was it from a high school girl's simple, yet spine-tingling rendition of "O Holy Night?" Or Arnold Epley's soul-searching "Sweet Little Jesus Boy?" Did my first exposure to the Messiah in Mercer University's choir lead to joining Carol Anne on Christmas Day to listen to the complete Messiah?
Is exploring "O Tannebaum" on the piano in recent years perhaps still part of searching for that perfect tree as a lad scouring far-reaching property with a favorite aunt? Or is it our first married Christmas and that scrawny, two-foot model snatched from a barren Fort Hood reservation which still stands as our memory's sentinel over our present-day trees?
Perhaps it's Carol Anne's Yankee heritage where we trim the tree on Christmas Eve, with crismons and other hand-made ornaments. Maybe it's the illuminated star atop, a father's gift for a Connecticut child's third Christmas, and our tree remaining up until Epiphany which serves to unify traditions and also leads us to the Christ Child with the wise men.
Is it Mary's earliest memory of Christmas "lighting the candles" on the Advent wreath each evening? Of Lyle and Mary growing to read scripture and readings, first haltingly and then with sureness!
It is each of these separately and in combination that have nourished and sustained me in the faith.
Wherever we are, with grandparents, other family or friends, at home, alone, traveling, on a reservation, in an elevator, we need to be Christmas to each other.
Loving Father God, We thank You for the memories and support of family and loved ones over the span of our varied lives.
December 23, 1989
As a child in rural Georgia, I experienced the excitement of the birth process. I was fascinated by seeing a hen settling in to nest. We would circle about 21 eggs in pencil in order to notice any fresh eggs laid when she was away from the nest. I would wait and watch for three weeks. Toward the 18th and 19th days, I could press an egg to my ear and faintly hear a soft peep. Soon, the eggs would be pipped (cracked). The chicks would emerge wet and wobbly, soon drying under their mother's warm body.
Next, heads would start inching out, like curious turtles. In a day or two with empty stomachs and craving curiosity, the chicks would be led out in search of food by their mother. night the chicks would nestle safely under and around their mother's warm hovering body.
Similarly, all of us joyfully hear the announcement of a baby to be born. We make ready for the baby's birth by anticipating and sharing gifts, experiences, and advice. We celebrate the arrivals. We watch and help that baby grow ....
We teach them many things. A small circle in Jesus' world anticipated his birth. They celebrated finding him, amongst God's simplest creatures--the animals. Jesus then had to be taught about growing up. But more so, he had to teach us about growing--about growing closer to God. Those of us who work with preschoolers know it still happens that way. Like Jesus, they are surely closer to His Kingdom.
O loving God, help us to understand the love and nurturing you give us through your little ones.
-- Wesley Edwards
Wednesday, December 1, 1993
LET THERE BE LIGHT
The Word was the source of life, and this life brought light to mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has never put it out. John 1:4-5 (Good News)
Growing up in rural Georgia, I spent countless cloudless evenings studying and surveying the heavens, looking for God and meaning to life.
An endless canopy of stars opened up, like a lightning bug festival in outer space, the expansive Milky Way as a handle for the picnic basket.
The stillness of the night was only altered by stars dancing in staccato, seeming to twinkle and emitting tiny sparks like sparklers on the Fourth of July that reached and tingled my bare arms.
The breath-taking silence was cadenced only by an occasional awareness of my own slow and steady breathing inhaling the huge panorama. Other times that silence was punctuated by the forlorn cry of a nearby whippoorwill luring me back.
Even on cold, frosty evenings, as the wonder and awe drew and crystallized my into miniature sparkling stars, I was beginning to fathom that I and all mankind, part of God's grand scheme, a plan for love and redemption. I sensed that a wonderful and powerful God had created and ordered the universe. Each visible star was a lone, special guardian angel watching out, just for me.
When my faith lapses or falters, nothing draws me nearer than another heavenly scan. Sometimes I recall that the wise men needed only one star, pointing to Jesus' birth, God's exclamation mark of love for us.
Dear God, however, wherever, and from whomever we perceive your light, may it draw us toward your Kingdom. Amen
Wednesday, December 28, 1994
BAELY NEEDS A RAINBOW
We were sitting on the floor, alone, Baely and I, waiting for big church. This was the Sunday when the kindergartners visit the worship hour. We had been looking at and talking about our group picture of places girls and boys could pray. The subject of beauty and color had surfaced. "I have never seen a rainbow," Baely announced-- sadly. "I keep trying to, but I haven't seen one. Every time it rains, I look for one," she continued forlornly. "Every time it rains, I go to the window. Sometimes, I sit under a chair on the porch. I look everywhere but don't see one. Some day, I hope I will see one."
I promised to show her some photographs, but she dejectedly replied, "That won't be my rainbow."
On Baely went. Her five-minute-forever-waits always came up empty-handed. Yet, out of the unfulfilled blush of colors, a new hope kept springing up. Her five-year-old simplicity carried an almost adult-like patience and persistence, akin perhaps to the aged Anna and Simeon at the Jerusalem Temple, endlessly, yet continuously waiting at the Temple for their own rainbow, the promised Messiah.
And Baely's five innocent years, or all that she can remember, have been unblessed by a rainbow, I'll never see another rainbow without my heart standing beside Baely, wishing she could finally find her own special Technicolor dream--alive in a rainbow.
O God, May our small spectrum of light reflect beyond ourselves to Your permanent rainbow-Jesus. Amen.
-- Wesley Edwards
Thursday, December 26, 1996
The Gift of Presence
Just before Christmas, my mother’s sister would travel by train from Washington, D.C., to Athens and then by car to Washington, Georgia. At my grandparents, Aunt Lorene would sleep off the long trip. She was a night-owl anyway. On Christmas, I had two nagging questions: “When would I see her? What did she bring me?” She always managed to get us five nieces and nephews something inexpensive, yet special.
As I weaved in and out of children’s games and adult conversations, I became increasingly anxious. What was it this year? But the time came and presents seemed to have gone around quickly, sometimes before I was ready with my Brownie Hawkeye camera and the next bulb. Now those memories flash back so clearly, even after 37 years.
Through a strong faith in God, my aunt adopted an extended family. Our daughter Mary has her middle name. In Washington, D.C., she lived with and cared for an aging friend. For over 20 years in D.C. she provided a haven for my family and me. Ten years ago, she moved her warmth, love, and acceptance to Washington, Georgia. Her wit has challenged us in conversation and late-night scrabble games. Now with a frail body, but a strong mind, she shares memories with us. Her motto has always been, “Hand out, wear out, burn out; but don’t leave out or rust out.” If she wanted to do something, she made plans, rarely having to cancel. A few years ago, she rode past her family’s fears and all medical odds on a lengthy trip back to D.C.
Who can measure what our gifts of time and presence can mean to others? Without counting her costs and with few resources my aunt paved a clear road of gratitude.
-- Wesley Edwards
O God, help us to give the widow’s mite in our commitment to your kingdom. Amen