I see people like Ed and Jessie Weimer, whose smiles can light up a room and whose hugs are always abundant. I see people like Don Watson, who comes early every Sunday to open up the doors, turn on all the lights and make sure everything is in tip-top shape for the first service. I see folks like Stan Burchfiel who has served as head usher for over 30 years greeting with extravagant hospitality those who enter our doors as visitors. I see people like Joyce Cochran, who tenderly arranges the communion table every month. I see folks like Rosie Taylor who showed up in courage as the only black family in a sea of white faces in the early 1960's to make this church their faith home. I see folks like Joe Drake who have played and sung his praises to the Lord each Sunday for almost 70 consecutive years every Sunday at this church. The stories that they have about the history and traditions of this church are amazing. But even more important are their faith stories. How their faith has held them through losses of spouses and children, raising families and building strong marriages, offering their time and talents sacrificially, exuding what giving of their first fruits financially means, living simply so they might have more to give to others. We have much to learn from their wisdom.
During last Sunday's sermon, I offered you a challenge: remember your story of faith and share it with someone who needs to hear it. The reason I asked you to do that was two-fold.
First, you likely need to hear it again. As you reflect through your faith story, there will be people who come to mind. These will be people who have taught you the stories of faith through their life example: the generosity they exhibited, the kindness they offered, the genuineness of their care. You need to not only remember but give thanks for those people in your life.
Secondly, you need to share it. When we share our faith with each other, we all grow the stronger for it. For as we listen to others stories we learn not only about others, but more about ourselves as well.
This Thanksgiving holidays, National Public Radio is sponsoring "The Great Thanksgiving Listen." This project is designed to get high school students to sit down with an elder and ask them a series of interview questions, and record it. I love this idea, of sitting down with some of our long time church members to ensure we have the stories of their faith forever etched into our hearts.
For we are reminded in
1 Peter 5.5:
In the same way, you who are younger must accept the authority of the elders. And all of you must clothe yourselves with humility in your dealings with one another, for
'God opposes the proud,
but gives grace to the humble.'
This Sunday, our laity will lead us in worship. It is a great jump to start listening to one another's faith stories. So this Thanksgiving holiday, spend some time with a relative, or a church member to hear their stories of faith. And as you listen, give thanks.
Be a blessing,