(Editor’s Note: Bible study groups are not a practice adopted by most Old Order Amish, but in New Order churches such meetings are a vibrant and important part of the church culture.)
Our ladies Bible study is always a highlight for me. Once a month us Amish church ladies get together along with some of the girls for a time of Bible sharing and praying together. Seemingly we all face our share of challenges in life. It always gives me a boost to sit in a circle of friends as we share about the trials or frustrations we face, as well as the victories we find in Jesus.
It is so easy to be stuck in the slippery rut of business. Seemingly we are then too busy to reach out to others and don’t have time to lend a listening ear or even offer a prayer for those facing sorrow and grief. These Bible studies are an excellent time to simply lay aside our work and seek the Lord together.
Last week I found out that a volunteer was still needed to host the Bible study for this month. Immediately, I jumped at the opportunity. We just settled into our new home. I was delighted for the chance to host the ladies in a house that is actually big enough to accommodate everyone. That day I was at mom’s where we turned five bushels of apples into applesauce, so I really didn’t have time to think about getting my house ready for guests.
“I’ll wait until tomorrow,” I decided.
Bit by bit I am learning not to worry as much about having everything in tip top shape for visitors who in reality don’t mind seeing some toys here and there or a few dirty dishes on the counter or even some dust bunnies hiding in corners.
By the end of the applesauce day we had a total of 100 quarts. My husband Daniel chipped in and helped clean up before we headed for home.
After a good nights rest I felt ready to tackle some basic housekeeping. Julia picked up toys while I swept the floors and washed the fingerprints and smudges from the dining room window where the children love watching for daddy’s return from work. I also wanted to bake a pan or two of bars if I could possibly squeeze that in before Bible study.
At 1 p.m. the first bicycles, pony carts, and open buggies began arriving. Everyone was taking advantage of the beautiful fall weather. Mom was among the first to arrive. It didn’t take her long to get to work washing some dirty dishes that had been patiently waiting.
Soon we were ready for our Bible study. This time there were only a dozen of us ladies. We divided into two groups. One group used my sewing room while the others sat in a circle of folding chairs in our bedroom. The ladies took turns watching the children who were playing in the living room and bedroom.
As the conversation flowed and various aspects were shared I felt motivated and convicted. Are we moved with compassion the way Jesus was when he saw a need? Are we actively looking for ways to do good to all people or are we just focused on our own difficulties? Do we allow God to comfort us in our trials, thus softening our hearts of compassion to others as it says in 2 Corinthians 1:4? “God comforteth us in all our tribulations, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble by the comfort wherewith ourselves are comforted by God.”
Do we care enough about others to pray for them as Jesus did? Or how about asking God to send forth more people to care for others and work in his Kingdom for his glory?
Each chapter of our study book talks about an animal that teaches a valuable lesson. This time I was inspired by the zebras. A herd of zebras will actually slow its pace when one member is injured so it can stay together while the wounded member recovers.
True compassion paints a beautiful picture of responding to needs with a longing to do whatever is necessary to meet them.
After the study, I served “Hubby’s Delight Bars,” popcorn, chips, and tea. By the time everyone left for home I was ready to dig deeper in investing in the hearts of those around me. I was inspired by how one of the ladies, Susan, put her compassion into action by sweeping the floors and picking up the toys before leaving for home. Soon my home was emptied of mothers and children and my heart filled with gratitude.
HUBBY’S DELIGHT BARS
1 cup flour
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup butter softened
1 cup pecans (optional)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
3 tablespoons maple syrup
Combine first five ingredients and pat into 9 by 9 inch pan. Sprinkle with pecans. Melt butter over medium heat and add brown sugar and maple syrup. Boil one minute and then pour over unbaked crust. Bake at 350 degrees for 18-22 minutes or until bubbly and golden brown. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup butterscotch chips and 1/2 cup chocolate chips.
Cool and enjoy.
Readers with culinary or cultural questions or stories can write Gloria directly at Gloria Yoder, 10568 E. 350th Ave., Flat Rock, IL 62427-2019. To see more on the Amish go to www.amish365.com.