Observations 41

Chivalry on Sea Breeze Drive

I befriended a lady this week.

I am fully aware of the complications that can arise from such an act of kindness. You know how people talk. But still, she had stumbled into my Sea Breeze driveway, and I felt an uncontrollable urgency to act.

I knew at once that she was high born for she wore a sophisticated tea rose orange gown cut with impeccable taste, custom fitted to her petite form. Perhaps, I wondered, the black smudges that freckled the dress were the result of some unknown trauma encountered on the highway. It must have been those bad kids down the road throwing mud at her I thought, anger rising within me.

I knelt down and checked for signs of life. Not hearing any breathing, I was about to engage in CPR when she moved. It was just a faint fluttering of her gown, but I took it as a positive sign. I bent low and whispered words of comfort and inquiry.

She seemed startled and made an attempt to rise and flee.

I stopped her. “You’re not ready,” I said softly.

She paused realizing flight was an impossibility at the moment.

“Let me help you,” I said.

She would have none of it, searching frantically for an escape.

I lifted her from the ground. She made no resistance. A slight morning breeze drifted in across the ocean marsh ruffling her begonia gown, summoning.

I knew she would leave, and I would never see her again. I knew.

Still, I tossed her gently into the wind, and she was gone.

(But as we all know, real friends never really leave us).

David R. Denny


Observations #40

Version 2

Whistling in the Dark

It was close to midnight on the front porch, and the darkness clung to the unseen horizon muffling the ocean murmurs. The only sounds I heard were a few distant geese and some of the nuthatches that flitter in the cedars behind my house. The silence was haunting, almost frightening as I contemplated the mysteries lurking in the darkness beyond the Cedar Island shoreline.

I’m not sure what prompted me to whistle. Perhaps it was nothing more than an instinctive summons from nature; I’m not sure, but whatever it was, I just whistled and waited. The few lone chirps and distant squawks hushed, and all that remained was my solitary porch note gliding along the black corridors of the Point. I noticed at once that my brief melody lingered a while echoing off some distant pine tree before it slipped under night’s cover and was gone forever.

That simple whistle brought me such sudden joy I couldn’t wait to launch another. This time I added a little trill to the melody wondering if perhaps I might a get a response. But there was no answer; just a ponderous silence that tried to interpret my meaning. I knew I had an audience now for the night sounds had grown still, and I just knew that a thousand little-unseen eyes were looking this way.

Smiling, I whistled for a few more minutes sampling a variety of orchestral tempos from adagissimo to affrettando (very slow to hurrying). Each spontaneous stanza meandered over the dark marsh beyond and then sank slowly into the ocean.

It was something akin to praying, I thought. Little pieces of the soul flung out toward the heavens, waiting, hoping, expecting. Yes. It was little like praying.
David R.Denny

Two Golden Words

DBC  January 21, 2018–Sunday sermon
David R. Denny PhD


I Googled “Two Golden Words” the other day and I was pleased with the result. The words that the computer presented to me are often overlooked and much neglected in today’s often vulgar and stressed society. My parents taught me these two words and I learned early on that they had a special power locked away in them. All of you know these words and know their charm. What are they? THANK YOU!

I love to hear these words so much I thought it would nice to say them as a group. So let’s all turn to someone beside you and say them together on three–Ready?

But these are NOT the two Golden Words that I want to talk about today because I know two words more powerful than these. These words were also taught me by my parents and these two words forever changed my life.   I also know from being around you for over a year now that all of you value these two words very highly. What are they? (You won’t be disappointed) SUNDAY SCHOOL! Now let’s all say these two golden words. Ready?—The Dream Team spent yesterday in session talking about this very thing. So this morning I will pause in my study of 1 Thess. and talk about what makes SS so unique.

  1. Sunday school is old fashioned. (Good. We need that) I was thinking of some old fashioned things that are long gone from our society:
    *It used to be that if one was on a crowded bus or subway-one would stand for elderly..
    *Yes, ma’am and no’ ma’am. Walmart–“Would you like the milk in a bag?” the lady asked me. “Yes, ma’am” I replied. She stopped and smiled at me.
    *Writing letters or cards. Almost gone from our society. It’s all texts and emails. (I was so happy to see an old-fashioned card circulating in our Sunday School class for Edgar and Mary…)   Sunday School is old fashioned. It’s an endangered species. But we don’t want to lose it. Sitting around a table with a group of friends talking and sharing and praying and reading the Bible is as old-fashioned as it gets. But it doesn’t get any better than this. There is something so fulfilling and meaningful in this old-fashioned custom.
  2. Sunday School is slow. (Good. We need that). Life is so fast paced. You can get crushed in malls today and the parking lots are crazy. And when I see fans charging into football stadiums I wonder how they sustain such frenzy for 3-4 hours.
    • Sunday School is slow down time. No hopping about and screaming, or cheerleaders whipping up the crowd, or hotdog breaks. Just time to say hello to a friend and ask how their week went and share burdens and prayer requests. Sunday School is slow time.
    • A lot can happen in slow time. It took God a whole day to hang a light bulb, to create light where only darkness was. He took His time. He created light after careful thought. He divided the light from the darkness and made a day and night, a morning and an evening. He positioned the stars just where He wanted them and then stepped back and moved that one over a bit and that one up a bit and then looked and said–“That is good.” It took time. He wasn’t in a hurry. Sunday School is slow time but its valuable time.
    • 3.  Sunday School is–well, its SCHOOL. (Good. We need that). Sunday school began in 1780 in Gloucester England. Robert Raikes worked with criminals and thought that a day of religious training would make a difference. SS began as schools for the poor who worked six days a week and then hung out in alleys and docks getting into trouble and swearing etc. SS also taught proper behavior, cleanliness, provided clothing for the poor and sought lift the moral standard of the kids.

SS is “school” even today. All ages can learn in SS. You can learn about the world of the Bible, about ancient cultures, about how Jesus grew up and how He changed the world. SS will teach you to care about the world and how to love one another and how to be selfless and how to pray effectively and a million other valuable skills.

4.  Sunday School is friendly. (Good. We need that). There’s a movement catching on all across the nation called “We Dine Together.” It started in Boca Raton Florida at the local high school. One student noticed how painful lunch time was for some kids. They sat alone. No one to talk to. No one to share the day with.

            *In my first year of teaching I felt the same way. About 15 teachers would meet for lunch in a teacher’s room and talk and laugh. I would go but no one knew me and so I was excluded. I got so miserable I decided to stay in my room by myself and watch Judge Judy on the television.

So now at the Boca Raton high school, a club called We Dine Together fans out searching for the lonely. Then they sit beside the student and begin a conversation.

And Sunday School is like this. Sunday School is a friendly place. Everyone is always welcome. But not everyone knows this. So we have to invite people and show them how friendly Sunday School can be.

5. Sunday School is memories. I don’t remember everything that happened to me as I grew up. A few things here and thee. I remember hitting my older sister once with a broom. I remember camping trips with my family. But I remember most vividly my SS times.

SS makes eternal memories. I was only in elementary school when I attend the Tokyo Baptist Church. But it is all so clear–the teachers–the rooms–the fun I had.–

*I remember SS at the Second Baptist Church in Jacksonville Ark when I was in the 6th grade. Sitting in little circle in a boys SS class. All of fidgeting and wanted to go out an play but the teacher holding firm spoon feeding wonderful spiritual morsels that I still chew on today.

* I remember my high school youth group at the Riverview Baptist Church in Woodbridge VA. I was chosen to deliver the sermon on Youth Day. I was 15. My first sermon. My parents took me out for lunch after the service to celebrate.

Conclusion: So–let’s rebuild out SS. It’s up to all of us to do this. I can’t do it by myself. But I now I probably wouldn’t be here today if I hadn’t grown up in SS. What can you do in our new SS? Be a teacher? Helper? Student? Assistant?

Dream Team Meeting #1 January 20, 2018


Location: Onley Coffee House 10:30 am-January 20, 2018

Members: David Denny–Alice Rew–Susan Warren–Shirley Deeds–Eddie Mears–Cindy Milliner–Jo Coniglio–Linda Nyborg–Cheryl Bloxom–Alice Denny–Susan Mears–Shevon Kellam (Girl Scouts)

Selection of officers: Moderator (Dr. Denny)–Assistant moderator– (Eddie Mears)– Secretary– (Shirley Deeds)  Treasurer– Susan Mears)

Building an energized and meaningful Sunday school for all ages.

1. What did Sunday school mean to you when you were a kid? Any Memories?

2.  What makes Vacation Bible School and our annual Christmas programing so popular for kids and their parents.  (Could we duplicate these elements into our Sunday school?)

3.  What can we do to get started? Let’s list and discuss some innovations:  *A monthly emphasis? This might include: Sunday lunch–special music–kids involvement–attendance goals by classes with awards in worship hour? (hat day–write a letter day–cake day–scarf day etc–(Just to have fun).

4.  How can we pull in all the families with children that are already a part of the extended church family? Who are they? Make a list. SS newsletter to mail to all prospective families.

5.  Selection of teachers and Training for teachers. (Order literature when ready) Have a local SS convention using resources from Bridge Network–(Lynn Hardaway and Kim Jessie). Invite other churches to join us.

6.  Set a kick off Sunday. Make it a big day. Use our master prospect list. Get everyone to come. What can we do for this day and what is the date? Worship service announcements and pep talks

7.  Scholarships for families with children. Join the church and attend at least 40 times a year and the DBC will invest in your child’s future. $100 scholarships for starters. Then every 3 years that increases by $25 until the child enrolls in a college or university.


Homework: Over the next month as we wait for the February meeting, pull out your Dream Team folder when you have a few quiet moments and write down your thoughts and ideas on the paper I provided. This will be our beginning point at the next meeting.

*2nd meeting–February 1, 2018–Drummondtown Church –6:00 pm

*3rd meeting date and time–February 10, 2018–Panzotti’s Restaurant 10:30 am.

Dreamer1 2


Observations #37

Candlelight Service at the Drummondtown Baptist Church
December 2017

A hushed expectancy settled over the crowd of nearly a hundred as the flickering altar candles summoned last thoughts of the rapidly expiring year of the Drummondtown Baptist Church in Accomac, Virginia.  Fading images of a dozen months nearly over mingled with the hallowed memories of the Christmas season as worshippers listened to the familiar Scriptures of the Christ child.  The joyous tones of the pipe organ reminded all who gathered of a night long ago when a Savior was born in Bethlehem.

As I looked out over the congregation this evening, I too reflected on many things.  I thought of the many new friends I had made over the past year.  I had quietly closed down a brief but meaningful career as a teacher in the Virginia Beach City Public Schools.  A hectic transition followed that culminated in me standing here in the pulpit looking at endless possibilities on a horizon I still did not fully comprehend.

I want to thank Mr. Robert Coniglio for sharing the pulpit with me this evening, and I want to thank all my friends at the church and community for welcoming my family to the Eastern Shore.

Christmas Eves are but portals to exciting days to come.  Join me as we take our first steps into a promising new year.
David R. Denny

Christmas Turkey
Carol Valentine carves some magic into the breast of my freshly fried turkey.  She will tell you, (if you ask her), that the whole affair was quite an adventure.  Not only did we have to figure out how to use the new XL Butterball Fryer.  We also had to monitor thermometers, oil temperature, extracting techniques without permanently scarring our skin etc.  Quite a ride.  But when it was finished, we had some mighty fine turkey!

Smith Island Cake 
Eight layers of paradise.  Count ’em.  Eight.  And each one a wonder.  Special thanks to Alice for baking me this treasure–her very first attempt at such an Eastern Shore delicacy. 

And now for two of my favorite people–Leslie and H.B. Rew.  They had invited Alice and me to the Wachapreague Island House for a Christmas lunch.  Everybody knows this is the best place for seafood and we all certainly enjoyed an assortment of flounder, oysters, sweet potato fries etc on this special occasion.
Thanks for the meal and the memories on the drive home.

Thousands of snow geese cascaded down from the heavens beside my house on Sea Breeze Drive a few days ago.  They circled restlessly above the field and then without warning drifted down like a thousand snow leaves upon the barren farm field.  They clattered and squawked endlessly, swapping stories of the flight from the tundra and then without notice lifted as one and drifted off on a jet stream to nowhere.
***Here are the snow geese that I wrote about  I tried to capture their lift off in slow motion using my iPhone.  I hope it works.  https://youtu.be/ORV1revK3lA

Christmas Secrets 2017

Glance through the Christmas stories in the New Testament and you will notice if you’re a careful reader, that there are secrets buried in the various texts.  This three-part series reveals these secrets.

  1.  Secrets in the Temple (Luke 1:5-25)
    temple.jpgThe first secret slips into the Christmas story from the lips of Gabriel, the angel of God.  He shocks the old priest Zacharias who is in the midst of a once in a lifetime chance to officiate in the Holiest of Holies during the morning worship hour in the temple.  “Your wife will have a son…,” whispers Gabriel through the incense rising off the altar.  But Zacharias mocked the angel and was struck dumb.  Zacharias was forced to carry to stifle the secrets for months.   *See Willa Cather’s marvelous story, “The Enchanted Bluff” to encounter a delicious secret from a kid’s perspective in Sandtown, Nebraska on the summer river).

2.  Our second secret comes via Mathew’s tale in Matthew 1:19.  Here we discover a few fascinating Secrets in a Small Town.  Once again Gabriel makes a spectacular entrance into the Christmas story with a midnight visit to Mary in the small, quaint town of Nazareth.  “You toNazaretho will have a child” he whispers to the young woman in the still of the night.  She keeps the secret well with quiet rejoicings.  But Joseph takes it hard sensing a sudden, inexplicable betrayal on the part of his betrothed.  *See some small-town secrets in the classic tale “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee who tells of the haunted house and Boo Radley).

3.  Our third and final secret, “The Secret Summons,” sparkles in a starry sky in Jerusalem.  Herod, the aged and diseased king stares restlessly at a star twinkling above his exquisite palace in the northwest corner of the ancient city of Jerusalem. Herods palace He fears the implications of the star and sends the Magi off secretly to find the child. Herod’s body is riddled with pain and disease as Josephus tells us in his work The Wars of the Jews (Book 1, chapter 33).   Though Herod means to destroy the Child, God has other plans.


Observations #36


Sunrise at Henry’s Point, Sea Breeze Drive
(Photo by Dr. Denny)

I paused on my morning walk recently as the sun stretched regally over the Cedar Island marsh that rolls out like a velvet carpet to the shore.  The horizon seemed almost to be on fire as I stood and stared in wonderment at the painting before me.
And then this deer quietly slipped out of the dark forest brush on full alert fully aware of my intrusion into his morning ritual.  It was one of those mystical moments that I knew would vanish within minutes.  I wanted so badly to freeze it, to command it to linger longer, but, alas within a few dolorous winks of a faint morning breeze, it was but a delicious memory.
        In some ways, this sunrise fantasy reminds me of the year just past.  It rose with promise balancing on the precipice of time and then quickly vanished into December’s mist.  Gone.  Within a blink or two twelve months slipped into the sea and left me realizing how fragile time really is, how fleeting the gift of life can be.
I stood a few minutes longer beneath the golden haze lost in lazy thoughts wondering what the deer was thinking and if he sensed the divine like I did.  I wanted to ask him, but before I could the sun bade farewell, the day began, and he was gone.

Christmas Shoe Boxes

We had another successful shoe box campaign this year.  Everyone gathered on a Wednesday night, including the girl scouts who helped this time.  Shirley Deeds spearheaded the event and close to 80 packed boxes were stacked in the sanctuary  ready for delivery to the needy around the world.



Hanging of the greens

The kids are practicing for the Hanging of the Greens service in December.  Jo Coniglio, the church organist, teaches them the songs for the service.  Megan Campbell watches from the front seat.
During the service on Sunday morning, these kids were such a delight to all the congregation.  They sang several songs and then bustled off stage to gather in ornaments which they paraded down the center aisle of the church in an endless stream dropping off their ornaments and looping into the back to gather more.  Thanks, kids, for your participation.

 Dale Parks and Linda Young pose beneath the pulpit in front of the poinsettias.  All the members of the Flower Committee (Alice Rew, Ted Lewis, Amy Kay Hines, and Shelly Mize) did an exceptional job of decorating the church.  This is one of the most beautiful sanctuaries on the Shore.  Be sure to stop and enjoy it before the holidays slip away.

The Dream Team will have its first meeting on January 20th at 10:30 at the Crossroads Coffee House in Onley.  Anyone is welcome to participate.  Currently there are eleven volunteers.  Our mission is a simple but complex one:  DREAM!  What can we do to make our church better, more effective, more interesting to absentee members and outsiders.  Our goal will be to dream of ways to spur growth and inspire many in the surrounding area to become a part of our church family.

Candlelight Service

  The Drummondtown Baptist Church Candlelight Service will be held December 23 at 7:30 pm.    Everyone is welcome.

Closing Thoughts

Let’s not forget the miraculous offering on Harvest Home Day, November 19, 2017.   On this hallowed day, the church gave from free and thankful hearts over $21,000.00!
The pastor will be out of the pulpit for two weeks– December 31, 2017 and January 7, 2018.

Merry Christmas everyone and a Happy New Year!