"You are blessed to be a blessing!"
Often when I set out to bring the ministry of the church to a member of our community I discover that the one I am visiting has more to give than I could have brought. This morning I had the pleasure of visiting Howard Bass. Howard is a vibrant man of faith who has served his nation and his family. He recently had a toe amputated and received the news that he may need more of his foot amputated. I ask him how he was feeling and he surprised me when he replied, without hesitation, "Oh pastor I am so blessed!" I don't usually lump amputations and blessings in the same category. He went on to share a witness with me which will linger in my heart and guide my Thanksgiving observance. He gave me permission to "preach" this message to you. I am paraphrasing from his witness....
"I am so blessed. I know my foot looks awful now, but the Lord blessed me with good feet for 86 years. I can hardly complain that they are failing now. There is not time in the day to tell you all the places my feet have carried me. I walked all over Korea when I was a young army man. My favorite times there were giving candy to the children. The army would give us a ration of food for each meal which included a high protein candy bar. Most of us tucked them into our uniforms until we were out in the community. The children would see us, sweet little kids with nothing on this earth but big smiles, they would speak out 'chocolate? chocolate?' and we would give them our bars. They would laugh and play with such delight. I felt so blessed to have those chocolate bars to share...
Later my feet carried me to Vietnam. I was in army intelligence this time so I had it easier than most. I got to live in a village among the people. I made good friends with the Vietnamese who were around me. My favorite days were when we got a bundle of army steaks. The Vietnamese did not have steak so we would share with them. They would make wonderful homemade potato salad. We never got homemade food so this was like coming home. We would all share what we had and we always seemed to have enough to eat well. I missed home and family when I was there, but I am so grateful for the people who became like family around me. I will always wonder what happened to them after we came home...
Pastor my life feels so complete. I have even been blessed to see visions of Jesus in my sickest days. I'm not sure why I am still here but I am grateful..."
As I listened to Howard I was humbled and reminded of the deep meaning of Thanksgiving. Howard was eager to share with me how blessed he was in spite of his current health challenges. He could see in his weary feet the places he had been and people he has served. Wearing out those feet sounded more like an honor than a burden. This thanksgiving I hope we can all adapt Howard's position. We are SO BLESSED!
Likewise Howard took opportunity to give thanks for the opportunities he has had to bless another. For those like Howard who are late in years perhaps this Thanksgiving you can share some stories of how you have been blessed to be a blessing. There are some young folks like me who need to hear more of your life and journey. For all of us who have more days to live I challenge us to look for opportunities to experience true blessing by sharing our lives and our resources with others. Doesn't Howards experience sharing steak and potato salad sound like the first thanksgiving! A meal shared by unlikely folks in celebration of the gift of life and harvest. This holiday season consider how your celebrating can be shared in relationship with others, particularly those who have little company or resources. True blessing comes in relationship with our generous God, in relationship with friends and family, and in community with those we are called to bless.
We are grateful for you!
Pastor Jenny (and Pastor Scott)
Please hold in your prayers this week:
Those who are lonely or grieving this holiday season
Those who are sick, recovering from surgery, undergoing treatments, or hospitalized