“O God, you declare your almighty power chiefly in showing mercy and pity: Grant us the fullness of your grace, that we, running to obtain your promises, may become partakers of your heavenly treasure.” (Proper 21 collect) The collect for Sunday, September 26
by Liz Goodyear-Jones
I was raised in a classic story of the south by two women, my grandmother being one of them. Her name was Sallie Stone and she rocked my world. I said my first words to her; napped in her fan cooled bedroom daily and learned how to be a better person from her rock solid Methodist flavored faith. She was funny, handsome in looks and filled with common sense. She knitted, tatted, made popcorn balls for us kids at Halloween and when my mother went off to Parsons college, my grandmother made her beautiful suits (drawn from sketches of Bergdorf Goodman’s fashion windows that my mother would send home). In the spring she would take me to the woods to dig wild violet plants and most evenings the local doctor and newspaper editor would sit in her front yard after supper and talk. They would often ask her advice saying, Mrs. Stone what do you think? Her answers were pithy and to the point. Are you getting the picture of “power” here as Jesus would have us see it? Maybe you had one of those grans too!
What’s subtle and not so easy to see, is her devotion to mercy and righteousness. No one, NO one, could come to our door, but that she and I addressed them as “Mr. or Mrs. last name”. It didn’t matter the status of their clothes or the color of their skin, they were to be treated with respect and honor. What you also cannot see is that this was Mississippi in the 1950’s and my grandmother had a second-grade education.
When Billy Graham came to our town in August of 1952, we went. It was a defining moment for me of hearing the story of Jesus. Like Dante Alighieri, my heart was so moved by the love that moves the sun and the other stars, that I ran down to the front when they had an altar call! I was six.
Walking home that night holding her beautiful hand, I said, “Grandmother, I want the whole world to know this!” 70 years later I am still on that journey, chiefly because that woman showed me mercy and compassion, the almighty power of God.