I find it appropriate that on this day, when we celebrate All Saints’ Day, for us to reflect upon the Saints in our lives. Too often, we as a church are often guilty of remembering the past while trying to look and plan for the future. As a consequence, the Saints in our lives are often overlooked, or at least unacknowledged. And while such acknowledgement always runs the risk of offending those not mentioned, it is sometimes worth the risk to point out to each other what is happening around us.
I give thanks and praise this week to God especially to Nicole. Nicole had no idea what she was doing when she took a little girl aside, hugged her, and allowed her to cry for some time. Nicole had no idea what she was doing, but she was comforting one among us who has not had a good life. How had I heard the story? Her mom came in to thank me and let me know I had an angel in my congregation. Maybe she exaggerates a bit, but Nicole was certainly a saint.
I give thanks and praise this week to God for Vern, Connie, Gay, Sherry and anyone else who had a hand placing AFM menus in the schools. For the first time in almost two years, their tilling of the ground brought forth a green shoot even as winter rears its head in our lives. Three weeks ago, thanks to all of your generosity, I enabled a school employee to help a desperate family. To be sure, that family took the fun out of dysfunction. But I had her call and tell the family that the food was here. The family picked it up, and once again that school employee apologized. This week, I received a call. “Father,” she said, “the more we talked about what you did, the more excited we got. I have heard of churches like this, but I had never experienced it for myself. Anyway, we took up a collection to thank you, and we raised enough money to purchase 6 Thanksgiving boxes for needy families. Do you think you could find 6 families?” I laughed ironically, as need knows no season. But I asked her if she could not find 6 families nor could not those who helped her contribute. As a result of your faithful giving, teachers have now collected among themselves and identified 6 needy families in their school to help. And that joy of serving that we each share, will no doubt be given to them.
I give thanks and praise to God for the ministry of Fred. Four years ago, as a priest newly landed in Davenport, I called Fred and asked him if he could help with a problem. Fred bought a pair of steel-toed boots for a man newly employed. Three weeks ago, his boss walked in and gave me $50 for the discretionary fund. When I asked why. He said, “Four years ago you helped John. I want you to know I had to fire him this week. He wasn’t lazy. He wasn’t stubborn. He was just grateful for a job. And you made it possible for him to work for me until my business dried up. I’m hoping you can pay it forward for me, because I am broken up about having to turn him loose.”
I give thanks and praise to God for Bev, who doggedly got the word out about our need for freezers and then stubbornly refused to give up finding out the identity of one of the donors so that we could properly thank her on behalf of the hungry.
I give thanks and praise to God this week for Sherry, Michelle, Sue, Robin, Linda, Larry, Pauline, Patty, Mary, Julie, Polly and everyone else who has a hand in the Community Meal. As I shared with 8 o’clock this week, I was reminded last month just how much they appreciate the effort and the love with which we serve them.
I give thanks and praise to God for Charlie (though if people yell at me for forgetting their ministries I might change that!), who often nags and nags and nags that I need to share these stories more often, and who is never afraid to speak into any situation.
I give thanks and praise to God for George, Annette and Robin, who took the modern incarnation of bingo, and turned it into an opportunity for us to teach others about God (and to make a bit of money for our church as well).
I give thanks and praise to God for those that have served on Vestry, who kindly and gently try to meet the needs of all of us while trying hard to discern God’s will for this parish and then leading us appropriately.
I give thanks and praise to God for our Intercessors, whose faithful ministry has convinced others that God is still moving and working in the world today.
I give thanks and praise to God for those who have served as my sounding board, as wonderful pastoral counselors in my life, and as elders in the faith when I have need it.
I give thanks and praise to God for Karen, who wonderful work as a mother frees me up for all the stuff that goes on around here, and who is never afraid to speak her mind, even when I do not wish to hear it.
I give thanks and praise to God for our ushers, our altar guild, our choir, and all our service participants, who faithfully labor that each of us, but most especially the visitor among us, might see, hear, and feel God during our services.
In short I give thanks and praise to God for all your ministries and the trust with which you have enabled me to represent you and your love for God to the world around us, both here in Davenport and even in the “virtual” world as we tackle the adversities in peoples’ lives on behalf of the God who calls us to such servant ministry. It is only because of your faithful labors that I am ever seen and known as the “Death sucks pastor,” the pastor the church that “Rocks,” the pastor of the church that “feeds people,” the priest tackling Human Trafficking, or a great herder of cats!
This week, as we reflect on that “great cloud of witnesses” which God has given us both as examples of holy living and, sometimes, as examples of victorious dying, take a moment to remember those in your life today who have taught you how to bear witness to His truth and who have helped strengthen your faith and devotion, and to thank God and praise Him for their roles in your life. Who knows? Maybe someone will hear the joy and love with which you speak of a brother or sister in Christ and be moved to ask you to account for that joy.