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“He is preaching,” Susanna said. “No one else is even here.”
Phoebe said nothing.
“This is what happened yesterday,” Susanna said, “and you knew exactly what to do for him.”
Distressed but not surprised.
Noah reached to pick up his German Bible from the table beside his chair and turned again toward the window.
“There is no greater message in the Holy Scriptures, which God Himself has written for us, than that we are His beloved. Let your heart hear the beating of God’s heart for you.”
Phoebe shuffled toward her husband. “I see his true heart, a heart after God, when these times come.”
“This has happened before,” Susanna said. “How often?”
Phoebe hesitated. “At first only once a year or so. He would wake in the night, come out here to the window, and begin. I would only wake when I heard his voice or got cold from the draft in the middle of winter.”
“And then?” Susanna spoke over Noah, her attention pulled to his words even as she asked the question
“Then it was more often. Now it is quite often.”
“Why would he not want the ministers to know he has such a gift? Or the congregation? Surely they would vote to make him a minister as well.”
Phoebe shook her head. “He only knows that he preaches because I have told him so.”
“I do not understand.”
“He has no memory of yesterday,” Phoebe said. “And tomorrow he will have no memory of today.”
“You might be well familiar with John 3:16,” Noah said. “Are you also familiar with the other many, many, many verses that lead you into the deep well of God’s love?”
“How has no one discovered this before?” Susanna asked.
“It used to happen during the night,” Phoebe said, “and then in the evenings after supper.”
“And all our people are scattered on their own farms and stay in their own homes in the evenings.” The Zugs were the Kauffmans’ nearest neighbors, but they were still a couple of miles away.
Phoebe nodded. “Now it has begun happening in the afternoons but never as early as yesterday. If I had thought there was any risk, we would have come straight home after the service finished.”
“How long will he preach?” Susanna said. “As long as yesterday?”
“Most likely. Once it begins, there is no interrupting. You saw for yourself. You can trust me when I say that I have tried many times to no avail.”
“Yesterday you knew when he was nearly finished.”
“He always concludes with the Lord’s Prayer.” Phoebe moved a loose rug away from the path Noah had begun to pace as he preached.
Susanna sighed. “Bishop Hertzberger was unhappy.”
“Shem has been a faithful minister for us, but he does have particular views.” Phoebe pulled a small table closer to the wall. “I try to keep him away from anything he might trip over. He does not even see the furniture. I suppose if he is going to do this every day, I will have to find a way to arrange the furniture more permanently. I was hoping not to have to explain to him why I am moving things around after so many years with an arrangement that has suited us well.”
“The whole congregation saw it happen yesterday,” Susanna said. “There will be questions.”
Gladden the Heart is the fifth story in Olivia Newport’s Amish Turns of Time series.
Olivia Newport’s novels twist through time to find where faith and passions meet. Her husband and twentysomething children provide welcome distraction from the people stomping through her head on their way into her books. She chases joy in stunning Colorado at the foot of the Rockies, where daylilies grow as tall as she is.