Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Midweek Moment

 I am sure many of you have people you look up to; people that stir within you the desire to constantly improve yourself. At work, there are those people that always maintain a high efficiency and seem to always be on top of things. In families there are usually those members of the group that throw the best parties, say the nicest things, or have the most beautifully decorated homes. However, there are also those mentors that we have in the faith.

Have you ever thought about those people that inspire you by their extravagant generosity, incredible Scriptural knowledge, or possess that bubbly personality that is so endearing that everyone just cannot get enough of it? I ask this question because today is All Saint's Day. A day that Gertrud Mueller Nelson explains this way: "All Saints Day is the celebration of those who have contributed successfully to the creation of the kingdom. The saints were not perfect, but they were whole, holy, and they were certainly human. They lived their unique fate with creativity and participated in the evolution of human consciousness" (To Dance with God, by Gertrud Mueller Nelson [Paulist Press, 1987], 223). Today is the day we honor and remember those saints, those people whom we admire, respect, and have lived a life dedicated to the building of God's Kingdom.

I personally have many saints that have influenced me over the years. But there is one in particular that I want to share with you today, Anne Kirkwood. I love Anne. She was a member of my home church and as a child I would spend time with Anne every week. My mom was our church Administrative Assistant and each Friday I would go with mom to Anne's house so we could take her all of the unfolded worship bulletins for that weekend's service. Then, bright and early on Sunday morning, Anne would place them in the sanctuary, neatly folded. That was my introduction to this saint. Each week I would see Anne. Each week she would always greet me with incredible kindness. Each week, no matter the number of bulletins, she would thank my mom for bringing them over and promise to have them in the Sanctuary, folded by Sunday morning. Eventually, Anne became a babysitter for me and my brother and it was in those times I really got to know her. Just to give you an idea of how loving Anne was, when she began babysitting for me, Anne was in her seventy's and had arthritis in her knees pretty severely. But she never failed to get on the floor and play cars with me or any other game I could dream up, any time I was over at her house. It was during these times that she would talk to me about her faith, her childhood, and her hope in the future. And it wasn't just me that she talked to about these things. Anne would sit in the church kitchen every Sunday morning, after making fresh coffee and orange juice, and talk to whomever came in and sat down. You said hello and she took care of the rest. If you did not know Anne when you said hello, you loved her after you did. Every time I would sit and talk with her I would come away more impressed, more in awe of how she lived her life. If I misspoke or behaved poorly, Anne would straighten me out. However, the kicker was you never knew that was what she was doing. She had a way that made you love her even more after she corrected you. There was never any presumptuousness, arrogance, or anger. Just love. And you knew it. You could feel it. Anne lived each day, building for God, through her words, her love, her acceptance, or any other tool she could use. God's love and God's glory shone though Anne in awe-inspiring ways. For me she is a saint, a person that actively built the Kingdom of God, and that I look up to, then and now.

I encourage you to take this week and think of the saints that you have known in your life. Take time and thank God that they were placed in your life, even if only for awhile. These saints are what drive us and encourage us today. These saints are what it looks like when God is in control. These saints will keep teaching us long after their time in our lives are over.

Anne, I miss you and I love you!

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