The Power to Change the World

For anyone who is struggling with the frustrating sense of uselessness let me tell you about my good friend Ann. Ann* (not her real name) passed away just before Valentine’s day. For the last three years she came almost every week to our church service in the respiratory unit at the nursing home. Because of her trach it was hard to understand much of what Ann said. But Ann has changed the world. Her consistent faithful presence was noticed by her daughter who also began coming many Wednesday afternoons.

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Hi! My Name is Helen!

“What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it?  And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. Luke 15:4-5 NKJV

Hi! “I’m Helen*. I’m from Kaiser Valley!” she greets me every week. Helen (not her real name) is perky, funny, and she now lives in

the Alzheimer’s ward at the nursing home I visit. Helen has an amazing memory for the verses of all the hymns. For most of her life, Helen attended church,sang in the choir, gave her offerings and like so many others she never once receives a visit from her pastor. P1030465

Being a pastor isn’t an easy job. Most people don’t understand the pressures, the demands and the temptations that we face every week. But pastors are also shepherds and as shepherds we are called to help to take care of sheep. Some sheep pay their tithes faithfully, dress nicely and shake our hands to tell us they loved the message. But some sheep lose their way.  In this parable Jesus is talking about a lost sheep just like my friend Helen from Kaiser Valley. She is a sheep who has wandered off a little too far. One day she looked around and the rest of the flock was gone! There were no familiar landmarks. She cannot find anyone to help her find her way home. What all the Helens and Bobs and Alices and Marys need are shepherds who will come looking for them. Do not take this message as just another guilt trip, but rather as a gentle encouragement to remember how joyful it is when Jesus finds any one of us. Remember that the business of finding lost sheep is a great joy for both the shepherd and the sheep!

The Widow’s Mites

And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing. And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury   Mark 12:42-43 KJV

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I had felt frustrated by the small number that came to our little nursing home service. It seemed like I was just rushing in, doing my duty and then going home. Then one afternoon God chose to change my outlook. As I was passing around shaking hands saying,” God bless you” to everyone, one woman slipped something into my hand. I opened up my palm and discovered two shiny quarters which she had given me. “No I can’t take this’” I protested. She just smiled widely and said “You keep those; there are lots more where they came from!”

I was instantly reminded of the widow’s two mites in the Bible story. I remembered that Jesus had said that the widow, “put in more than all these…” When God sends us the widow’s mites He is putting into our hands what he values most. I would not at all be surprised if some of the people standing near Jesus might have laughed. Those pitiful worn out copper coins were nothing to compare to the golden shower being poured in by the rich. But that afternoon God gave me a golden shower of laughter to lift my spirit. In that moment a light clicked on in my heart and I saw the preciousness of that woman in God’s eyes.