From Connections: Darlene's story: I was touched by a pagan

By Darlene Warren

BIG SANDY, Texas--Since my introduction to the modern-day Church of God phenomenon, I have been extremely blessed in ways that defy explanation. In spite of the idiosyncrasies that set us apart from mainstream humanity (especially back in the early days), my life has been enriched beyond measure.

I made it through my teenage years without too many scars and, in spite of my initial resistance to attend Ambassador College Big Sandy, I will be forever grateful my family encouraged me to apply. It was there that I met my husband-to-be, and Big Sandy has been my home ever since.

Long-lasting impressions

My children have grown up here, and this is where my grandchildren visit at every available opportunity. Without the church connection I doubt I would have ever ended up here in East Texas. These are just a few of the blessings that come with being involved with the Churches of God.

But before I was involved with the Churches of God I was involved with another religious institution. My earliest ecclesiastical education came from the Sacred Heart Catholic Church.

I was young and impressionable, and we all know that some of our earliest impressions sometimes are the longest lasting. Although I don't profess to believe the doctrines endorsed by that church any longer, I did learn a few things in my early years that just recently seem to have more import than I originally thought.

We in the Churches of God have always vilified the Catholic Church for its obvious link to paganism and "idol worship." You know what I'm referring to: carvings of the crucified Jesus hanging on a cross, images of the "Virgin Mary" and various other depictions of "saints" in all their holy righteousness that have survived down through the ages. I'm not into all that anymore, but there is one thing we might learn a lesson from.

Mathematically deficient

If there is anything in the Churches of God we have a problem with, it is with the elementary process of counting. You know, like 1, 2, buckle my shoe; 3, 4, shut the door.

Every spring we resurrect the old argument about how to get three days and three nights between Friday sunset and Sunday morning and how to count 50 days from the Sabbath between the holy days during the Days of Unleavened Bread.

Do you count Pentecost inclusively, exclusively? Do you judge the beginning of the month by the conjunction or by first sighting?

If it involves numbers, we have a problem. We just can't seem to get it right. We can't decide whether to begin counting on the vernal equinox or the month after the vernal equinox.

It is quite a dilemma we've gotten ourselves into, and it is all because we've never been schooled in how to count from one sequence to another.

The way I see it we have two choices. One of the first things a person learns when he starts attending catechism (a Catholic version of Sabbath school) is how to pray. As a Catholic, you are taught many prayers, all of which revolve around the rosary.

For those of you unfamiliar with the rosary, think of is as a necklace of small beads interspersed with larger beads. The small beads represent prayers sent up to the Virgin Mary (the "Hail Mary"), the larger beads are for the "Lord's Prayer," and in addition to that you have the "Apostles' Creed."

Do you think Catholics are smarter than we? Do you think they have a higher IQ in mathematics? Just why do you think the rosary was invented?

It was because they didn't know how to count! Passing your fingers over the beads as you pray is a perfectly good way to maintain sequence. If someone in the church could invent a way to help us maintain sequence, just think of the possibilities. We might all be keeping the Feast together again! Or, less likely, celebrating a new-moon conjunction.

A second solution?

But I'm not foolish enough to think that we, as a group, are ready to adapt a Catholic tracking method to solve the numerous problems involving the calendar (although stranger things have happened.)

There is one other process we could take a shot at. Do you know people who crochet? If you do, they'd make good Catholics, because basically all they're doing is following a pattern of stitches (prayers) and passing their fingers over the stitches (beads) to maintain sequence.

Have you ever watched someone crochet or knit? Quite frequently the crocheter or knitter has to stop and count her stitches. As her fingers glide over the yarn, her lips are continually moving (counting) much like Sister Catherine's used to.

Chain 1, skip 1

I say forget the rosary and adopt a crocheter. If you can crochet you can count. If you can count you may never again quibble over whether to keep Pentecost on Sunday or Monday.

Of course, as every good crocheter knows, when you turn to start a new row of stitches, sometimes you skip a stitch, and sometimes you don't!

This issue of The Journal includes many photos and several other graphics, besides the Connections advertising section. Don't forget to subscribe to the print version of The Journal to read all the news and features previewed here.

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