Dear Fellow Children of God,
Last week I traveled to New England and back to attend the funeral of my uncle who was my dad’s only brother, and my god-father. I thought I knew my uncle pretty well. But, as has happened at other funerals for family members, I learned things about my uncle I had not known before.
In preparing for the funeral my cousins had taken out my uncle’s military uniform and mementos. I had known my uncle had served in France during WWII. But, I had not known that he was an administrative aid to General Eisenhower. I had not known that he was in Paris and Berlin. (I now have his pictures.) I had not known that he had earned the Bronze Star for meritorious service.
My uncle also taught high school English for many years, and I had known that he was an especially favorite teacher of many. But, I hadn’t known how many high school yearbooks had been dedicated to him. I had not known that he had won writing awards in college. I did not know he had a poem published in The New Yorker magazine.
I had personally thought my uncle was special. He was a man of faith, an active leader in his church, and respected in the community. He had a wonderful sense of humor and was faithful in love for his family. I knew he prayed for me and many others. I had known all this. But there was so much more special about my uncle that I had not known.
Each human being is special. First, each person is special because we have been personally crafted by the loving, powerful hand of God Himself. In Psalm 139 God inspired David to write, “13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. 14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”
Every person is a gift from God, often in ways that we don’t know and understand. God inspired St. Paul to write in 1 Corinthians 12, “7 Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.” Inside each of us is a special gift or ability of the Holy Spirit. God intends us to use these gifts for the blessing of others.
Just in case you think that these words are just “self-esteem”, let me tell assure you that Himself considers each person so special that He personally paid the ultimate price to save us. In Romans 5:8 Scripture tells us, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
So, if I have spent so much time with my uncle but there was still so much special about him that I did not know, how about the person standing next to you in the line at the grocery store? What about the person sitting next to you in worship, or in the movie theater? In fact, have you thought about the unique ways in which God has made and blessed you so you can serve Him and bless others? You see, because of God’s hand in our lives, each of us is special.
I don’t like the term “self-esteem” because it seems to mean that we need to build ourselves up. In reality, we don’t have to build ourselves up, God has exalted us Himself with His creating and saving love. Each person has been created and blessed in such a special way by God himself that we have much to offer those around us. My uncle did. That is how God made you too.
A Child of God thankful for the blessing of others in my life,
P.S. On this Memorial Day weekend I am especially thankful for the service of my uncle to our country.
P.P.S. This is my favorite picture of my uncle and myself, taken at the 50th anniversary celebration of my mom and my dad. https://picasaweb.google.com/114993745799525883148/UncleSonnyAndAuntDot#5746764022830753442
Here are some pictures of my uncle from the last 10 years. https://picasaweb.google.com/jonrock53/UncleSonnyAndAuntDot?authuser=0&feat=directlink
ABOUT ‘THOUGHTS FROM THE PASTOR’ - I am sending these e-mail messages, hopefully weekly, to all St. John members and friends whose e-mails I have. (I am always adding new names of friends and members – in case you are just receiving this e-mail for the first time.) However, if you don’t want to receive this e-mail, please let me know, and I’ll gladly leave your name off my list for this message. . . Or, if you know someone who would like to receive one of these e-mails, please send me their e-mail address.