Psalm 116:1-4, 12-19
Acts 2:14, 36-41
1 Peter 1:17-23
I’m going to begin today with a story I saw on Facebook thanks to Leah Gwinner…
It’s been a year since my ten-year-old daughter and I started visiting “Annie” at the nursing home. Avery felt compelled to “adopt” Annie when she learned she hadn’t had a visitor in years. In the beginning, Annie smiled all the time and shared fond memories of her past. We would take her to Bingo, paint with her, and Avery would sing to her. Now Avery just sings. On a good day, Annie will hum along to her favorite Elvis song. But mostly, she just listens; the music makes her breathe easier.
I hoped by some small miracle she’d be lucid enough yesterday for me to thank her. I wanted to tell her she prepared a little girl to comfort her grandfather in his final days. I’ll never forget how Avery drew close to Grandpa Ben although he looked unfamiliar, sick, and in pain. Avery went right up to his bedside with a big smile. Avery was not scared. She was not scared at all. She was prepared. And I knew we had Annie to thank for that.
Unfortunately, Annie was incoherent yesterday. We ushered her off to a quiet corner of the nursing home and Avery got out her guitar. The first song she played was “You Alone” - the last song her grandfather heard - the song she played at his funeral, so bravely and boldly in a room full of mourners, her voice strong, never wavering. She was prepared.
As she began to sing to Annie, I felt myself becoming emotional. I will never be able to hear that song without crying. But there she was, singing it with a smile and strong enough to be heard over the noise of the nurses’ station. When she was finished, Annie sat up a little straighter and said the only sentence she'd say while we were there. She said, “I love to sing.”
I felt satisfied she knew why we came – to thank her. And I think she was thanking us back.
Annie soon fell asleep and Avery suggested we visit the woman who our cat Paisley curled up with on Pet Day recently. When we stepped into Mama J’s room, she smiled so big that all her teeth showed. She remembered us and our “little lamb” that comforted her that day. She was delighted to see the guitar strapped on Avery.
“Would you like me to play for you?” Avery asked. Mama J nodded enthusiastically.
As Avery played her grandpa’s song, I could see Mama J’s astonishment, her tears, her joy, her disbelief.
When Avery finished, Mama J explained that she’d been feeling down all day and had looked for a song on the television to comfort her. “And just look what came through the door! A beautiful child prepared with a song to lift this 96-year-old woman’s heart! Don’t anybody tell me God don’t answer prayers!” she exclaimed.
She used that word. And then she said, “Tell your people about this.”
I think she means you.
So I thought all night about what this means for you, and I think it is this:
When forced to go outside your comfort zone,
When faced with questions that have no easy answers,
When given a story you didn’t ask for,
When met a battle you never wanted to fight,
Instead of saying things like,
I am suffering. I am being punished. I am sick and tired of this.
Say this instead: I am preparing. I am preparing to serve an important purpose.
And perhaps one day, you’ll walk right up to something scary, sad, and unfamiliar and you’ll know just what to do. With a voice brave and strong, you’ll deliver a message no one else can deliver. And to those who hear it, it will sound like an anthem of hope, an answered prayer, a blanket of comfort.
Thank you for preparing for that moment.
Something tells me it will be glorious.
© Rachel Macy Stafford 2017
On its own, this is a remarkable story of the development of a small child.
When we look deeper, it is a lesson for all of us.
The Boy Scout motto is “Be prepared,” but what is it we should be prepared for?
In the context of the Road to Emmaus story, we should be prepared to be awakened
The pivotal moment in the Emmaus story is when Jesus breaks bread and is revealed to the two
Holy Communion is the act that monthly awakens us to what Christ did for us on the cross
The sacrament involves four parts: taking, blessing, breaking and giving
It is a model of how life is lived
We take the things that we are given of this world and the things of His world, love
We are blessed each and every day through our faith in God and in Jesus Christ and in the Holy Spirit
Because of these things, we are asked, no, we are told, to break free of our comfort zones
Only then can we give as Jesus did, and as he told us to give…without conditions
It is in the giving of our gifts, much like ten-year-old Avery gave of her gifts, that we become Christians…that we become the Christians that Jesus commanded us to be
So obvious that the world will know we are Christians by our love!
We are not Christians if all we do is take, and take, and take some more
We must be prepared to give
In our giving we, in fact, prepare others to be givers, too
Think about how we are supposed to model for our children
It is in the giving that we become like Christ…that we are awakened to what this life of preparation is all about
We trust in God that we each have something to give
tangible, and sometimes treasured, things of this world
talents from him, that must be developed, or prepared, before they can be properly shared
My friends, the walk from Jerusalem to Emmaus is estimated to have been 7 miles…a long walk
Our lives are simply a long walk…with lots of scenery along the way
Who are you walking with? Are you walking with Jesus?
Who are you talking with while you are walking? Are you talking with Jesus?
More importantly, who are you listening to? Are you listening to Jesus? Are you hearing Jesus?
Are you hearing in your heart?
Be prepared to be awakened…it can happen at any time during your walk of life. AMEN