Sunday was my birthday. Not a big deal… at least, not usually. But I guess I have reached the age at which people seem to take a little extra notice of things like my "seniority."
It began to unfold a few days early. I was in a store to buy a chamois to use in washing my cars (I am a car guy). As I was trying to decide which brand I dropped one of them. The container bounced on the floor and a nice young man turned and said, "Oh, let me get that for you sir." I was a little astonished and said thank you- not really knowing if I meant it or not. It made me think.
On the way home I stopped at a fast food place to get a few tacos to take home for dinner that night. It was raining. I rushed in and got in line. It was kind of a long line. As I got closer I found myself standing right inside the door. As I stood there another customer came rushing in from the rain exactly as I had done! He was a big burly oilfield looking guy. He almost plowed right into me as he burst in! He was a very kind and gentle man, at least that is what I thought until he began to apologize! His apology included the word, "Pop." I wondered if perhaps I was wearing a casket that day. Again, it made me think.
I am a Pastor. I don't view myself as old. But maybe I am becoming a little sensitive about it.
I stopped in to see one of our more aged parishioners. I make this same mistake every time I visit him and he always calls me on it. I made the same mistake yesterday. I called him, "Mr. Santo." He swatted my hand as he always does and said, "MISTER? That makes me feel like I am old!" Well, he IS old for in the next breath he told me he is 87 but doesn't feel like it.
I am a Pastor. My birthday was last Sunday. It was my first Sunday birthday as a Pastor. I have managed to keep my July 30 birthday under wraps… until this year. My phone began to ding shortly after midnight Sunday morning. I knew pretty quickly that the cat was out of the bag! I was up at 4. Arrived at the church at 4:15 to prepare the baptistry for baptisms, making certificates, studying a little, meditating, praying, and preparing for what is the biggest day in the week of any Pastor.
At 8:30 I went to our standard Men's Prayer Meeting to find the best birthday gift ever. Our men's gathering was tripled! The most kind and thoughtful man I have ever known had verified my birthday with Cathy, my life-mate. He rallied the troops knowing exactly how to bless his Pastor. Wow! Thanks men!
I heard several renditions of Happy Birthday, received a passel of cards, and a gift or two (see attached pic).
Then came the Children's Message, done each week by our Children's Minister, the highly animated Stephanie Cline. She called me up to sit in the middle of our 22 children gathered for the moment. She asked them how old they thought I was. I cringed! The consensus was that I was 21 after the loud and boisterous Susan shouted out that gleeful number! Stephanie asked the kids to surround me and to place their hands on me as she led in prayer for the service, and for her Pastor. A few snickers were heard as Kelly reached up from behind to place her hand upon my small (not) bald spot.
I was accused all day long of being 85. It is an amazing number! That would make me older than my dad! So each time 85 came up I claimed it to be the year I was born!
Dear church, you have the power to bless. In fact, "to bless" is a fresh way to restate the mission of the church. We have the power to bless! Not only the power but the obligation, the responsibility. That blessing is to share, to tell, to love, to invite, to embrace, to forgive, to reach out, to befriend. HE is the blessing which we possess. HE is the blessing which is ours to share. HE is the blessing with which we bless others.
I needed to be reminded of THE FOLLOWING WORDS which were written on a Guest Info slip Sunday- "I am thirsty for God's Words. I feel at home again. Thank you for the sermon on Gideon and thank you for making me feel closer to God." Obviously God is at work in the life of this one. Obviously church, we did our work as this one was blessed.
WE have the power to bless!
We have the POWER to bless!
We have the power to BLESS!
Dear church, you have the power to bless. Thank you for blessing me Sunday. Thank you for making it a great day in every way… with a special prayer meeting, immense numbers of well-wishes, the celebration and baptism of Becca Fleming, two preaching opportunities, four decisions during the invitation, a dozen guests, and an anointing service for Tom to end the day! Let us never forget that this special power extends far beyond these four walls and is to go into the community in which walls need to be destroyed and dismantled. We have the power to bless.
I can't believe it. I am already looking forward to July 30, 2018!