Jeffery

Jeffery
Jesus said, “Come to me you are weary and carry heavy burdens and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11: 28-30)

Pastor was thoughtful to give us a couple of different scripture passages to connect to as we thought about our working together with Jeffrey. This Matthew text resonated with me. I didn’t know Jeffery well, but I knew him well enough. I knew him to be a young heavy man with big warm brown eyes and a heart light as a feather.

We worked together a little more than seven years ago. It was the first full year of the Gathering Place, a sacred place of community for folks fifty five years of age and better. Jeffery was a volunteer driver and I think he was working with or for the director. He was the guy who picked up all the people and brought them here. He was the one who took everyone home after all the activities. He was one of those people that filled in the void for things that needed to be done. He was a right hand man. Jeffery seemed to be drawn to the activity and the group. I remember him joining us for Bible study and participating with the people at many events. He was steady and reliable. I never heard him complain.

I was surprised to see Jeffery at the Sacred Places function, a series of workshops about refurbishing older churches. I could see that he was happy to be there. I wondered if he had become a member of the church. A whole lot of connecting must have gone on after I left. Jeffery seemed downright proud to be apart of that venture. My last encounter with him was when he contacted me and invited me to be a friend on “Facebook” which I did.

I saw Jesus in Jeffery. I saw Jesus in his faithfulness to the task at hand. I saw Jesus in his care for people. I saw Jesus in his taking the initiative to connect with others. I saw Jesus in his patience and his loyalty.

I have this image that has been on my mind. It is the image of what it must have looked like when the angels ministered to Jesus after he overcame temptation and was tested in the wilderness. I picture two angels. One on each side with Jesus arms over their shoulders as they carry him off to the sidelines. Kind of like they do football players when they get hurt.
That image reminds me of the many ways that the angels carried Jeffery at those times in his life when things were heavy and he was weary.

I am thinking about how the angels get all the good parts in the gospels by showing up on all those mountain top places and how they have come here to bring God’s peace, the peace that passes all understanding. I am wondering just how much angels weigh as they carry Jeffery home to his belonging. It can’t be much, about the same as Jeffery’s heart…light as a feather.

Advertisements

Wink Wink

 Sometimes God is winking through humor. Consider the story of Penny…

At  the Neighborhood Breakfast today a woman became ill and ready to convulse. It wasn’t the food, she has epilepsy. The woman’s mother asked me to get the nurse and the nurse came and asked me to call 911.  Help soon arrived from the fire dept. They worked on the woman and then they called for an ambulance and the woman was taken to the hospital.

  During all this the Fireman’s laptop was thought to be stolen. What kind of a person would steal a fireman’s laptop while he was caring for someone who was hurt?

 Turns out it was Penny. Penny is a bag lady (child of God) who comes regularly to the breakfast. On one side of the room there are tables lined up and on those tables are things that people can take for free. The Fireman unknowingly set his laptop on that table and Penny thought it was old and not working, since she couldn’t get it to work. But she took it anyway for her grandchildren to play with and practice on. Maybe it just needed batteries.

Fortunately people knew her and even had her number. The police went to get the laptop and came back to interview me. I told them anything on the table was free game. Penny doesn’t steal…or at least not this time…

Aside

 A woman came to the breakfast. She may have been there once before.  A couple of us were standing in the crowded Fellowship Hall, talking and she came up to me. She was small in stature- middle aged. She had a big beautiful smile on her face. She asked me if there was some way she could volunteer to help. I asked her about her smile. “Where did such a great smile come from?” She continued to beam and said she tries to go to bed angry at night so she wakes up happy. I chuckled and mentioned I would try that sometime as I really admired her face with such a thing on it.

 

    “What do you want to volunteer to do? “What are you good at?”  She said she could do lots of stuff. I asked if taking a coffee pot around and spoiling people was something she could do and she said,  “Yes”. “Let me ask you another question”, I said. “Do you like to talk to people?” Her smile got bigger and she said , “Oh, yes!”- “OK then”! “The first thing I want you to do is look around the room and find someone who is sitting alone and looking sad. Sit down across from them and talk with them about anything you want or just be with them. Keep doing that until you don’t want to anymore. Then grab a coffee pot and take it around to all the tables and spoil as many people as you can.”

 

   For the next two hours she went from one person to another talking and listening and being. Then, after a while, she was seen taking a coffee pot around. Her smile never left her.

   At the end of the breakfast she came up to me. “Thank you!” she said. “What is your name? I asked. “Mary” she said. I hope Mary comes back next week to be and remind us again of God’s presence.Image

Silent Night

   This is something that happened recently that had me pondering. It was a different kind of week in many ways. I had announced to our Neighborhood Breakfast that we would be doing a memorial service for Carrie, a forty seven year old women who came to our church and ministry last June and volunteered and worshipped with us. She was found dead in her apartment a week ago. Her body had been claimed by the church, her distant out of state family members did not want to be involved. The details and expenses for the funeral and burial were covered, she was to be buried at GoodHopeCemetery, financially everything was taken care of except a headstone. That would be $675 and we would have to come up with that amount if we wanted a marker at her final resting place. I told the crowd that  if anyone wanted to contribute to the purchase of the stone they were invited to do so and we put out a bowl on the nurses table for any contributions. The hall was full, we served 250 that morning.

   Jean was back from her cruise to play the piano so as we sang Christmas carols with our MASH unit group of neighborhood singers gathered around her. As we sang I watched as people made their way to put something in the bowl. We finished our singing and I made an announcement or two and was putting the microphone away when a man who appeared to be homeless, because he had two or three layers of coats on, asked if he could us the microphone. He was rough looking and gruff in appearance He said something about a harmonica and something about Silent Night…I was hesitant not knowing what to expect and I handed him the microphone and stood next to him and he asked for people’s attention.

   He began to play his harmonica holding the microphone and the instrument together up close to his mouth and began to play. In all of my life I have never heard someone play the harmonica with such passion! And it was one of those moments…you know… He twisted and turned and gyrated to capture the breath he needed to hit every note. I stood next to him as he breathed deeply and rhythmically digging down into the depths of his soul to find the power he needed and every note he hit was just right. His timing was impeccable and the music was absolutely beautiful, soulful, poignant. In my minds eye, I wasn’t in a church basement anymore, I was in the field like one of those shepherds listening to blessing. It was a morning in which Jesus came again to those who needed him the most.

   As he played, I looked out over the people, watching them care for each other and sharing the little they had for a grave stone even as they pondered the loss of one of their own and remembered the angels coming with the word of the Lord to the lowly shepherds.Image