Several times in the past two weeks, various conversations and situations have reminded me of all the places I have lived in my life. Then it occurred to me how 42 has given me these places to become part of who I am. In this week that reminds us to be thankful, I will share some places in my life and the things I am grateful for that are associated with them.
Recently, I was speaking with a woman whose mom immigrated from Puerto Rico to, of all places, Meriden, Connecticut. South Meriden is where I grew up and spent the formative years of my life. It makes me think about my mom and dad, my two brothers, and my “kid” sister, all playing essential roles in my development. Connecticut means falling in love with my best friend and partner, Jenise. It is where we bought our first house and started our family. So Connecticut means family, and I am profoundly thankful for them this Thanksgiving.
Another conversation led me to think about southeastern Pennsylvania. A career move took our little family there, and it is there that God brought us to a church where my faith blossomed. The Lord transformed me from a simple Christian disciple to one called to congregational ministry full time. So southeastern Pennsylvania makes me think about my sacred call and how God leads us to vocations serving our neighbor. I am overwhelmed this Thanksgiving with the sense of thankfulness that 42 called me!
This past weekend I did a cameo appearance in the Salt and Light Theater’s production of The Music Man. The setting for this musical is Iowa, where I attended seminary, and where is where I returned to earn my doctorate. It was there that God gave me the tools to serve. It was a beautiful place to live, and we made some good friends. This Thanksgiving I remember fondly our three years living above the Mississippi!
The first church I served was outside of Peoria, Illinois. It was there that I learned the patterns of ministry; the ebbs and flows of liturgical life and pastoral care. It is also where I learned that I never wanted to be a church caretaker or undertaker. This is the birthplace of my burning passion for challenging churches to make the living Christ relevant in the 21st century rather than being trapped in the 19th or 20th centuries, or worse! I thank 42 for answering my prayer to serve with passion and incite!
This past weekend, we had a brief visit from our friend Patricia. We met her and her husband in western Pennsylvania, where I served the second church. This visit reminded me of the segment of my life that challenged me like no other. It was literally and figuratively one disaster after another that made it feel like I had lived there twenty-five years rather than five. Yet all of those experiences were necessary to prepare me for my present ministry setting. I give thanks for good and bad experiences and good friends and enemies because, like Job, I found that God is in all of it. Thank you Lord!
Then there is Sparta! I am watching 42 as he moves like Aslan in this place we call home. I cannot imagine myself serving anywhere else, and God willing, I will serve here until I retire. Thank you, 42, for this beautiful place with such amazing servants you have provided to walk alongside me.
My friends, I pray that this little journey through my life will cause you to do some reflecting this Thanksgiving. Remember the good times and the bad, the family and the friends, and all the stops in your life, and never forget that 42 is in it all!
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. Genesis 1:1-2 esvGenesis 1:1-2 esv