It’s hard for me to believe that only two summers ago I was on Sabbatical in Europe. This picture was taken in Stithians which is a tiny village in Cornwall, England in the southwest. Stithians is actually the village where my grandfather grew up. Mike and I went to Cornwall specifically to visit my father’s first cousins. They suggested we all meet up at the Stithians Show one day and we did!
The Stithians Show can best be compared to a county fair in this country except that it is only one day long. Venders come in from all over with their food trucks, only instead of offering hot dogs and cotton candy, they mostly serve Cornish pasties and biscuits. There are displays of competitive home crafts like quilts and knitting projects, and cooking competitions like jams and cakes. Because Cornwall is farming country there are tractors and farming distributors. There are some farm animals on display, but the big draw for the Brits are the horses and the dogs. The English love their horses and dogs.
Mike and I spent a long time watching the agility dog races. I’d never seen such well behaved dogs running through hoops and over balance beams. We then ventured over to the horse competitions. We watched a few classes and were about to return to the dogs when the announcer said to be sure to stick around for the demonstration of “the hounds.” “What are the hounds?” I asked a Cornishman nearby. He looked a little quizzically at me and said, “They’re hounds.” When I was clearly still confused, he added, “You know… the fox and the hounds.”
Having peaked my curiosity, I stayed. A few moments later, a couple of riders came trotting into the circle on their horses surrounded by about 40 hound dogs. They proceeded to ride around the ring, cutting across the center, turning and going the opposite direction and the dogs never missed a beat. They were with them every step of the way. The crowd clapped in approval. Eventually they stopped in the middle and invited the crowd to come out and greet the dogs who were very happy for the pets and pats of the adoring public.
As I reflect on that day, it occurs to me that as Christians, we are really a lot like the hounds… or at least we can hope to be. We are one of many who crowd around Jesus and try to follow closely as he goes about his work, assisting when we are able. Sometimes we focus on our unique relationship with God. We say, “Jesus loves me” and he does. But sometimes we need to remember we are part of a bigger group called the church. We go together where the Lord sends us. We follow together. We listen together. I think that’s helpful because if we get a little confused, it’s helpful to have others with us to help us stay the course.
Now the trick is to be as obedient as that pack of 40 hounds I saw at the Stithians show!
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