Preparing for Thanksgiving - Naming Names and Serving Christ
One of the coolest passages in the New Testament for me (Romans 16:1-16), is one that most people find incredibly boring. It’s at the end of Paul’s letter to the Romans in the 16th chapter. If you’re a big fan of Paul as a theologian, you probably just skipped right over it. The “meat” of Paul’s thought is earlier…in chapter 5 and chapter 8…so by the time you get to chapter 16, the temptation is to treat this part of the letter with the same attitude we treat the final credits at the end of the movies: let’s skip this stuff and beat everyone out of the theater! But if you stay for the credits of this letter you get more than a “list”, you get a window into Paul’s life-saving team! The people Paul gives thanks to here are people Paul owed his life to! People who stood by his side through thick and thin! In verse 3 Paul mentions Aquila and Priscilla, who risked their neck for Paul. In verse 5 Paul speaks of his dear friend Epenetus, his first convert in Asia. He tells about Mary, who worked hard for the Lord in verse 6. In verse 7 he lists Andronicus and Junia, who spent time in prison with Paul. Paul speaks of his dear friend Stachys in verse 9. In verse 12 he mentions his close friend Persis, and in verse 13 he lists Rufus and Rufus’s mother, who was like a mother to him. (I always get a kick out of this image. I can almost hear her say, “Now, Paul, I don’t care if you are an apostle, you have to eat your vegetables!”)
I kind of struggle with this list because most of us have never heard of these folks! We know the screen actors in God’s story, Jesus, the disciples, Mary and Joseph, but we don’t notice the behind the scene folks making everything happen.
This morning as I look out on a new day at Bear Creek and prepare myself for another Turkey day, I am so grateful for what God is doing at Bear Creek UMC! We are truly starting to hit on all cylinders and it is exciting. As I look at all we’ve done, I know there have been some “on the screen” stars here at Bear Creek. Our new staff is tremendous! God has worked through Danielle, Janelle, Simon, and Tim to “rock” our world in a wonderful way. But behind each of them, are all of you! Just this morning, I was interrupted pleasantly by Vickie, getting items ready to take down to the Afghan refugees today with Debby and Beth. As they work in the back room, I’m reminded of Candace, a young mother from BCUMC who brought in a load of diapers and toys for this ministry a couple of weeks ago. She ran in to drop stuff off, her kids were restless in the car. I could tell she had a packed day, but I was touched that she had taken the time.
This morning I just visited with everyone involved in our Stewardship Celebration meal…Tim, Chris, Brook, and Sue. Each of them burning the midnight oil to make this meal a success. Last Sunday we had Megan come back from college to join our high school crew of Josie and Sophia and Spencer, just to help with our nursery. Saturday night Cyndy and I were in the church to get a couple things ready for Sunday, and there was Andy changing batteries in the exit signs...on a Saturday night! (Behind him is a whole team of trustees: Jim, Keith, Dee, and Tom) Every Sunday I have to get here bright and early in order to beat Wyatt and Bill and Jim and Sara and John and Marty and Johanna and Simon and Dee and Erika and Cyndy and Connie and Bob and Sonya and Randy and Keith and Nancy and Chuck and Ellen and Andrew and Andy and Heather and Karl and who knows who else as they prepare for worship. And then before worship I watch as Bridget and Rick and Ethan and Allen and Keith and Nancy and Tim and Cyndy and Randy and Sonya and Josie and who knows how many more make pumpkin spiced lattes, cut cheese and fruit, and placing bars carefully on a tray as they prepare for the fellowship feast, we have every week after worship. And let’s not forget Judy and her team with the wonderful worship decoration. Add to this the choir and all the folks in the bands who come every Thursday night to practice and then again early on Sunday! It’s just incredible!
Every Sunday counters are back in our copier room counting and tallying money and they are joined during the week by John and Chuck and Marty and Ellen who do such an incredible job taking care of the financial aspect of our church. All of them are unsung heroes in our church. They work so hard! Last Sunday our Stephen’s ministers did put on a “holiday grief” workshop. It started at 2. I was told everyone was going to gather at 1:30 to prepare. I thought I’d get there at 12:50 just so I could center my heart before they arrived. When I pulled in the parking lot, they were all there already! Wow Antoinette, Bob, Bob, Brook, Tracie, Sue, Connie, and Susan! You are amazing! This week Tresje called us concerned about a couple who had been in an accident recently and we organized meals for them. I don’t know all who brought, but the response was overwhelming.
I know I’m risking it here, listing names is dangerous. There are so many more I could list. I’m sure I’ve missed some. But my point is clear, I hope! Bear Creek UMC is chock full of good hearted, giving folk who overwhelm me EVERY SINGLE DAY by simple acts of service and love. We are a church of foot washers! If I could I would give each of you a basin and towel as a sign of my appreciation, but instead I give you this: a warm and sincere thank you from the very bottom of my heart. You are my life-savers! Thank you so much for being by my side. I’ve got goosebumps of gratitude in my heart and on the surface of skin because of your willingness to get on your knees and serve.
Your pastor and friend, on my knees in gratitude, Brook