Sunday, December 26, 2010

Preach The Word...Be Instant In Season And Out Of Season

One Sunday in December 1961 while living in Beaumont, I made a new year’s resolution. But allow me to start at the beginning.

The telephone rang one Saturday at midnight. Breaking out of sleep I answered, and Brother Petry, one of the leaders at the Sour Lake, Texas Church of Christ said, “Brother Hamby, is there any way that you can come preach for us in the morning? Our preacher is in the hospital.” I told him that of course I would be there.

You see, I was a fill-in preacher in those days. My “on-call” Churches of Christ included Saratoga, Votaw, Warren, Silsbee, Winnie, Groves, and Sour Lake along with a few congregations in Beaumont. On occasion they would call me to preach if their preacher was sick or out of town.

I remember one Sunday at the old Delaware Street Church of Christ in Beaumont. My, could they ever sing…beautifully soul-inspiring. I began my sermon. The audience began saying “Amen” every time I finished a sentence. This spurred me on to greater eloquence. I do not remember what I said but at one point, the audience stood up and began clapping. I got all the more fired up. I believed they learned not to stand up and clap realizing that I would spew forth eloquence all day. Then later, they had a meal prepared. That food was good enough to go right on to Heaven. But wait, I may be digressing.

I researched my files that Saturday night and realized I did not have a sermon available that Sour Lake had not already heard. I was so sleepy that I decided to wait till morning then I would work up a sermon.

Sunday morning rolled in. My wife reminded me that she needed to attend the South Park Church of Christ over on Highland Ave. because she was teaching a class. So I drove her to South Park then headed over to Highway 105 going to Sour Lake. Still I did not have a sermon ready.

I placed a writing pad in my passenger seat and proceeded to write notes while I drove. There was a sign that read, “Sour Lake 15 miles.” At sixty miles per hour, I had 15 minutes to complete my outline. I had to watch the road because Highway 105 at that time was a narrow 2-lane road. So I scribbled my notes without looking at the writing pad.

Upon arriving, I walked up to the church house entrance with about five minutes to spare. I planned to finish up my sermon during the song service.

However, Brother Petry met me at the door and said, “Brother Hamby, our song leader is here but he is too hoarse to lead the singing. Since you are here to preach, would you mind also leading the song service? I replied, “Of course I’ll do it.” I still had not finished my sermon.

When sermon time rolled around, I began with, “Now I want everyone to ask himself this question.” I looked down at my notes written while driving sixty miles per hour. I could not read my writing. I guess Highway 105 was a little bumpy and I wrote without looking at my pad. There was no way I could read the question I wanted them to ask themselves. Silently I asked God to take over. The question spurted forth, “Are you prepared?”

I used the events of my morning as an outline and compared being prepared for eternity. Later the congregation commented that the sermon was the best I had ever done.

My resolution that year became “Always try to prepare and always turn it over to God.”

God always will help you to do your best.

Winston Hamby

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Ann Is My Big Sister and I Am Her Little Brother...

Did you know that my big sister, Ann Hamby King, is terrified of Santa Claus? Well there’s a bit of irony behind this story. Permit me to start at the beginning.

First, I should explain why Ann’s age cannot be shared in this essay. The reason is that a woman does not wish for that sort of info to be made public. I intend to honor that wish. After all, she is my big sister which makes me her special little brother. Thank you for understanding.

Ann was born in January 1932. My turn to show up in the nursery at St. Mary Hospital in Port Arthur did not occur till October 1935. This means that Ann was an only child for three years and nine months. Also this means that her parents (later to become my parents) had lots of quality time to spoil their only child. I think it must have been Ann’s beauty and demure personality that prompted my parents to have another baby. Probably they said, “Ann is such a pretty baby, let’s have another one.” And they did. I was that second child. I have always wondered why they never had any additional children. Is there a message to me in that continuing saga of baby talk? But I digress.

Anyway, as stated, Ann was an only child for nearly four years. Her parents wanted the best for her in every way. So one Christmas Eve when Ann was one month shy of her third birthday, Dad thought it would be great if Santa Claus could visit the house and give Ann a thrill.

He slipped on his full-length raincoat and donned a Santa Claus mask. The mask included a little red Santa hat to make the appearance more convincing. Dad conspired with mom to consummate the plan for Santa’s visit.

Dad went outside and waited a few minutes. The plan was for mom to be sure that Ann was in the living room so that when Santa knocked on the door, Ann would be available to open the door.

Dutifully, mom had Ann situated in the living room. They were sitting on the sofa and Mom was reading a book to Ann. Dad, who was waiting outside in the dark, wanted to be sure that Ann was in the living room, so he peered through the window to check. Ann looked up and saw this “thing” as she describes it, looking through the window. The Santa mask with the attached hat failed to amuse her. She began to scream. Mom consoled her and said that it was only Santa Claus.

Then there was a knock at the door. Mom told Ann to go open the door and see who was visiting. Ann opened the door and saw the “thing” standing there and she began screaming all over again.

That may not have been Ann’s fault for not being excited about seeing Santa Claus peeking through the window and knocking on the door. You see, as the web site known as “” states, “Santa Claus as we know him is a combination of many different legends and mythical creatures.”

Thus if Ann saw Santa as a mythical creature, no wonder she screamed her little heart out. Makes me almost feel sorry for my big sister, but not quite. Big sisters need a sobering experience once in a while to keep them headed in the right direction.

At any rate, when Ann reached the tender age of 4, my parents had to tell her the, “big dark secret” about who Santa really was.

Ann still lives in Beaumont and she still may be a bit terrified of Santa Claus. If you want to know for sure, just ask her…

Winston Hamby