Thursday, October 31, 2013

Magic Moments: Warm Fuzzies

Have a blessed wedding day, Marie Allen!!! And Happy Halloween to one and all! To celebrate, this post features an evil witch! Enjoy!

Today's Throwback Thursday post puts us in the wayback machine and takes me back to one of my oldest memories- and then skips ahead to one of my favorite Magic Moments! Come along for the ride!

One of my earliest recollections of a vespers service at Quaker Lake Camp in the early 1970's is of someone reading Richard Lester's amazing little book, Fuzzies: A Folk Fable. It was first published in 1971. The picture to your left is a scan of the cover of my copy, which is well-used and no longer in one piece. That book has quite a history. We used it over and over at QLC during my years as a camper and a staff member, and even later when I was volunteering as Camp Pastor. I continued to use it during my years as a Youth Pastor in a variety of settings.  The story is timeless, and absolutely perfect for a discussion about what it takes to build and maintain a community of faith and trust. For those of you who may not know the tale, here's a synopsis:

Sad Fuzzies
Once upon a time there was a beautiful valley, unsoiled by the things of this world.  All the people had were each other. They didn't know enough to be fearful or suspicious, and they loved the opportunities to meet and greet one another each day. This was because of the Warm Fuzzies. These were happy little soft round furry creatures that loved to be picked up and held. Just holding one made you feel better. People would collect them, and then carry them around and exchange them with people as they would greet them each day. You never knew who might give you a Fuzzy. And the simple joys of  greeting, sharing and smiling wer so wonderful that the people of the valley never missed movie theaters, bowling alleys and fast food. Life was very good.
Unfortunately, Jaunita, the Head With in Charge of the Blahs, discovered the valley and set out to put a stop to all this happiness. She spread a rumor that there was terrible shortage of fuzzies. People began to hoard them, to lock them up and save them for themselves. Soon people stopped greeting each other with fuzzies, and then they stopped greeting each other altogether. At first the fuzzies were sad that they were no long being shared with the people of the valley. Then the locked up fuzzies began to wither and die. And soon, the fuzzies were just a memory and people began to look elsewhere for happiness.  The story ends with a grandmother recounting the good old days and telling her grandkids about the fuzzies and what life was like before the valley became a big city.  It ends with her saying, "I wonder what life would have been like if there hadn't been a shortage of fuzzies?"

I read this story dozens of times over the years, but no reading stands out quite like a night at Melbourne Beach, FL in 1995. It was my 2nd summer at the First United Methodist Church of Kissimmee, and we were holding our famous Last Gasp Summer Blowout. As we met in our meeting room for the final night's worship I was planning to use the story to talk about community and friendship. I read the book, shared a message, and passed out little colored fuzzy balls to the students. We then had a time of prayer and sharing, and a number of the youth began to talk about how important this community of faith was to them.  One of our school guys began to share about how youth group was the ONE place he always felt loved, no matter what- and tears began to flow. It became very emotional. At the conclusion of the time I encouraged them to share hugs and to also share the fuzzies they had been given.  The next 15 minutes were a total outpouring of love. You could literally SEE this "group" become a family right in front of your eyes.  The fuzzies became very real symbols of all the family of God could and should be, and many of them went home with youth as treasured keepsakes of that night.  I remember hugging everyone in the room, some of them more than once, and telling them how much I loved them. And unlike many emotional "mountintop" moments in ministry, this one never went away. We talked about it for years because we still felt that connection. In fact, years later when I was leaving that church, several of the young ladies who were there that night gave me a collage of adventures we had shared together- and as you can see. the frame is decorated with fuzzies.  That night at the Quality Suites was not just a Magic Moment. It was even better- it was a GOD MOMENT! And none of us who were there were ever quite the same...

So don't miss the chance to share a warm fuzzy- a smile, a hug, a handshake or a laugh- with the people you encounter today.  Let there be no shortage of fuzzies!

Because of Jesus,

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