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‘Sarvice’ trees provide the first blush of white


in the mountain springtime on Appalachian mountains.  Sarvice is the old English pronunciation of the word service.  This is one of thousands of lessons my dad gave me over the years.  Years ago bodies of those who died through the winters were stored in snow banks or a room in ice houses until the ground thawed enough to dig graves.  When the “Sarvice” trees bloomed it was time for church “service” to bury friends and family.

The Sarvice berry trees were in full bloom as we buried my dad.  It was a favorite time of year for him.  Dad loved teaching 4H’ers, and those in the next three generations of his family about God’s Hand in creation.  My sister Kate was told to “Google it” several months ago, to which she said “I ask dad!”  He was full of knowledge, great and small.  Dad loved all things horticulture, history, and home state/church.  Most of all he loved Jesus and family.  By example, he passed on a work ethic that is almost pathologic.  I was a prototypical lazy teenager, but once wife and children come along, well dad’s example made sense.

We flew to Asheville and the next day drove to West Virginia in a car loaned to us by dear friends, Red and Sandra Reeves.  There I found out that I was volunteered to help my brothers build dad’s casket.  He made a request to be buried in a pine box… I got to tell you my first thought was, “Thanks dad!?!”  But then, it became a family affair with 4 generations of family participating in this affair.  It was moving.  It was a chance to tell stories.  It WAS different.  Kate with her dry humor walked in to help with the finishing touches (her forte) looked at the casket and said, “there is a problem.”  As I recall there was an all male chorus of “WHAT’s?!”  Through her little wry gotcha smile she told us we were going into the casket business because we were going to get requests.  Which we did.

West Virginia Mountaineers (and for friend Lisa “Thundering Herd”) are a different independent lot.  As you will see in the photos not only did we build dad’s casket, but family dug and closed his grave.  We also as family took a walk on a trail that dad maintained in the woods below his home.  Many of the photos are of early spring flowers on that trail.  For my Guatemalan friends, the trees in our part of the world loose their leaves and appear dead for the winter season.  But I believe as dad does we have an annual picture of the resurrection to life of Jesus Christ. The trees in these photos will have bloom and leaves in the next month.  You cannot believe the number of shades of green our God conceived in His creation.

Those of you who know my dad personally and me, know that we look very much alike.  I was named after him.  He had a little routine if he was in the room and I introduced myself as Dennis McCutcheon, he would slide up and stick his hand out and say HE was Dennis McCutcheon and I was an impostor!  Of course he also ALWAYS said he was ‘too young to drink coffee’.  David Bennett and I are sure Jesus has straightened him out on that by now.

I took advantage of that look alike quality to preach on Joh 14:9-10  “Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father? Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works.”
The Bible teaches that Jesus was God on earth, the exact image of the Father.  Further that He is the only way, the only truth, the only source of life is His teaching in this passage.  My dad believed that, lived it and shared it.  I had the opportunity to share a bit of dad’s testimony but the One that counts most and for eternity is the testimony of our Lord Jesus Christ.  All that is good in my dad, all that is good in me is because our Heavenly Father works through us.

Some will think some of the photos are strange, but they are of family that I don’t get to see often enough.  Our family is very much a cradle to grave kind of group as you will see in the photos.

Thank you for your prayer support in the last 10 days.  Orphan Resource International helped Vine International by unloading a container here at our warehouse quite literally while I was standing in the pulpit preaching my dad’s funeral.  I cannot thank these families enough nor do words provide a means to express what ORI means to us personally.

In Christ, Dennis and Cindy McCutcheon

2 Comments leave one →
  1. 03/12/2014 12:25

    I stumbled across this entry while looking for an explanation of “Sarvice trees” for my daughter. Lovely entry—my husband wants to be buried in a pine box, so it’s inspiring. Best to you—a sister in Christ.


    • 03/12/2014 12:29

      Reading through your blog further…I see you are from Asheville, NC which is also where we live. May God bless your sojourn in Guatemala.


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