The Day the Oven Died

Imagine there’s no sticky buns…

No homemade bread or rolls…

Only pre-packaged carbs above you…

And an Author moping over a pot of oatmeal, wondering if you can cook challah in a dryer…

Well, this is what I was going to write about. And then I received this message from Marme:

“Grandpa Winckler died this morning at about 4… As you know, although he was a quiet man in public, he was opinionated and one of his best opinions was that if he was going to marry Olive, she would have to be a Christian. She generally does not respond well to ultimatums, but after much thought, she agreed and was catechized and made her profession of faith, fully embracing Christ. Together they made sure that their children were with them in church every Sunday, catechized in Luther’s catechism, which was a 2 year process, and then and only then, making their profession of faith (which, by the way, included the purchase of a new suit!). Your dad and his faith are just some of the fruit that resulted from your grandparents’ steadfastness. And the fruit of believing grandchildren and great-grandchildren… well, you start thinking that God has a plan for growing His church… a plan that even uses the quiet ones.”

There is a lot I could say. I could tell the stories of my quiet grandfather and how for years he would buy Queen Anne’s Cordials at Christmas, just for he and I because no one else liked them, and how in truth I never liked them either, but I loved having something that I shared only with him, something that made me feel unique from the other grands, so I would not have dreamed of admitting it. I could talk about the man who would sneak back to put reindeer tracks in the snow during the Christmas Eve service so that his kids would be astounded that Santa had come while they were at church or how he taught them that cows always pray on their knees the night before Christmas. I could describe the yard, the attention to beauty and fruitfulness, the abundant garden, the blueberry farm that earned him the moniker “Grandpa Blueberry” with the Quail, the most impressive Christmas lights I had ever seen. All true. All good.

But it is my mom’s comment about God using the quiet ones to build His church that continues to stick with me as I stand next to my dead oven. It is perhaps the most vital, the most taken-for-granted appliance in the house. It is not physically attractive, but nor is it intrusive. It serves, night and day, whenever it is called upon. Actually, it heats up before you are ready for it, prepared to be the means of feeding the whole house.

Winckler men are quiet, capable, intelligent, servants. They love by doing. My Boy Quail’s face fell this morning at the breakfast table (which, appropriately enough, since I had no oven, ended up being chocolate chip pancakes… my grandpa put MnM’s and blueberries on his granola every morning for years and lived to 96. Makes you stop and think, doesn’t it?) when I was recollecting stories and characteristics of my grandfather and dad — it was with concern that he said, “But I am not a Winckler man…”

The Beloved smiled and quickly reassured him — you can be grafted in to Winckler manhood. He was.

We grieve with hope, with thanks, with the joy of victory — my grandpa ran well. He won. And when we see him again, it will be for good.

“The last enemy that will be destroyed is death.” — 1 Corinthians 15:26

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