The Storyteller Tells a Story of Faith…
The Path Beneath My Feet – “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.” Psalms 119:105 (NIV)
The series of stories under this heading will feature people of faith from both Barnitz and Mt. Zion churches who have not only built the foundation of our churches, but also the foundation of our faith. “The Path Beneath My Feet” is a periodic series of stories which will showcase the faith stories of people who have helped to shape our faith and built our congregations. Mary Shields (MZ) is the first feature story in this series.
Time travel might be a neat thing to experience, but may be a little ‘science fiction-y’ for some of us. However, to a small extent, most of us experience time travel of sorts in what we pass from one generation to another. What we are today is a product of what has come before us.
Deuteronomy 4:9 “Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.” (NIV)
So what about our faith? Where does faith come from? Some of us have parents who imparted their wisdom and faith to their children, grandchildren and beyond. Others of us must rely on the teaching of faith from those around us. The most fortunate of us build our faith through a combination of both of these. Mary is not only a mother, grandmother and great-grandmother, but also a teacher, mentor and example for all of us to follow. She is a kind, compassionate person who loves her family and everyone around her especially children. She has shared her faith with us.
Mary’s formal Christian life began as a small child in Mohler’s Church of the Brethren, a church close to her family home. When she was about 20 years old, a newly married Mary joined the Silver Spring Presbyterian Church with her husband, Otho. Later in life with her family including two children, Mary Ann and Alvin, she joined Mt. Zion Church. She was a person who took her Christian responsibilities very seriously so she began teaching children in the primary department. Because she loved children dearly and because she felt strongly children needed to see faith in action, she taught for decades. Although no one kept track of the numbers of children Mary taught, there were dozens, maybe hundreds, some spanning family generations. Mary taught the children she loved for 32 years because “these kids will be our future church”. Her class was active in selling hoagies and vanilla to raise money to send the youth of the church to summer camp. Some of the proceeds were also used to buy altar cloths. She taught the children to not only love Jesus, but to serve Him as well.
Mary says she wanted to become a Christian because she “wanted to go to heaven to be with my friends. If you want friends, you have to be one.” Mary also says that others have touched her along her life’s journey “by giving me faith to believe. Being kind, helpful and not being resentful is a good way to touch others. You need to put your trust in the Lord. Being a Christian has given me hope.”
John 15:12 “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” (NIV)
Mary loves the old hymns. Some of her favorites are: “‘Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus”, “Amazing Grace”, “In the Garden”, “My Jesus, I love Thee” and “Near to the Heart of God”. Mary also reads the Bible, especially Matthew 14, The Upper Room and Daily Bread every morning. She says she recites some of her favorite hymns and Bible verses when she lays her head on the pillow to go to sleep. What a beautiful way to rest in the Lord.
I Peter 5:7 “Cast all your cares upon Him for He careth for you.” (KJV)
Mary doesn’t know exactly what her future holds, but she does know that eventually she “will be in heaven, a place that is even more beautiful than we ever expected where she is waiting to talk to God in person.”
“I love thee because thou hast first loved me;
And purchased my pardon on Calvary’s tree;
I love thee for wearing the thorns on thy brow;
If ever I loved thee, my Jesus ‘tis now.
(The United Methodist Hymnal, Copyright 1989 The United Methodist Publishing House, # 172)