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Weekly Reflection

(09-07-2003)

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

Please read this passage in your Bible or follow it as a link: I Corinthians 1:4-10

Over the summer I heard a story on the radio about a magazine I think was simply called Found. The purpose of this magazine is to publish discarded or lost pieces of paper that seem to tell a story all on their own. They have published items such as receipts, post-it notes, lists, notes passed at school or work and discarded greeting cards. It seemed to me that this concept had great potential for a series of devotions for this fall semester. I hope you enjoy this series, and I hope that I can find enough litter to make it interesting.

It was June’s last day of work forever. She had been offered the “golden handshake,” and she grabbed it willingly. It’s not that she didn’t enjoy her work at the board of education. It just didn’t seem to make any difference. All the meetings, the inbox, the outbox, and the forms to be filled out made her feel like a self-sustaining bureaucrat. The worst part was no one seemed to appreciate what she did. Maybe she really hadn’t made a difference all those years teaching fourth graders, then moving into administration, and finally at the board of education. Tonight her daughter, Meagan, was giving her a retirement party. She had promised to keep the party small and brief. The people at work had a cake for her and they gave her a brass clock encased in Lucite. It was large and heavy. A couple of friends helped her carry her stuff out to the car. They hugged and promised to keep in touch. She got in her car, fastened the seatbelt, and started the car. Her cell phone rang.

“Hello?”
“Mom, it’s Meagan. Look things have been really hectic today and I couldn’t get to the store. Would you mind just picking up a few things for me before you come over?”
“Typical,” she thought. “Yeah, ok. Tell me what you need.”
“Get some of those sausages with cheese in them. We need some pop…”
“Just a minute. I’ll have to write this down. Hold on.”

She started looking through her purse, but the light wasn’t good enough in the car to see into that cavernous bag of leather. She pressed the phone up against her ear with her shoulder, and got out of the car. She searched through her purse and found a pen. Then she saw the notepad that Meagan had put in her stocking last Christmas. Meagan always put together little gifts to stuff a stocking for her. The notepad was obviously made for those end-of-the-year gifts that teachers always got from students. The border went through the whole spectrum of light—lighter at the top and darker at the bottom. At the top in exciting script were the words, “I’m appreciated!” complete with curlicues and flourishes. Underneath the words was the object that made it obvious it was for teachers: a bright, red apple with vibrant, green leaves. It all seemed sort of pathetic: “I’m appreciated!” It felt more like, “I’m taken advantage of!” She meant well.

“Okay. Go ahead.”

Meagan started over. “That sausage with the cheese in it, pop, cheese slices for the hamburgers, and bread. Thanks, mom. I’ll see you in a little while.”

“You’re welcome. Bye.”
“Bye.”

She hung up her cell phone, placed the pen, the list, and the phone on the car roof while she got the case for the phone. She put the phone away, got in the car, and drove away. The list blew off of the roof immediately. The pen rolled into the gutter, but quickly slid away. June arrived at the grocery store and searched her purse for the list. It was gone. She hated when she did stuff like that. She tried to call Meagan, but her line was busy.

“When was she going to join the modern world and get call waiting?”

June tried to remember the list. She thought she could remember it all. She walked through the whole store—up and down every aisle—just in case. She found some great stuff on sale; she was pretty sure she had remembered everything else. She checked out and headed toward Meagan’s house. When she arrived, there were just a few cars in the driveway. She walked in the front door loaded down with groceries.

“Surprise!” There were more than just a few people there. June looked around the room in amazement. People from the board, a few teachers and the principal from the first school where she had taught, Meagan and her family, teachers from the school where she had been principal, and some people she didn’t even recognize all smiled back at her as she took it all in.

Finally, somebody broke the silence. A young man stepped forward, “Mrs. Elm? Hi! Do you remember me?”

He looked familiar. His eyes and his mannerisms reminded her of someone. “Jeff? Jeff Sanderson?”

“Yeah! That’s great after all these years! You still remember me. I have never forgotten you. You taught me to think for myself. You taught me teach myself—to go looking for the answers.”

She had made a difference. All these people had gathered because day by day and moment by moment she had made a difference in their lives. She was appreciated. Her life’s work had mattered after all. Meagan’s son and daughter took her groceries, and kissed her on either cheek. She still had work to do. June joined the party.

Paul writes in I Corinthians that God has given you every spiritual gift you need for God to work through you, so that your life, your life’s work, your service, and your love make a difference in the lives of others. God is at work. God is at work in your life and throughout your life.

Pray that your faith in your own gifts will be strengthened as you strive to love God and love your neighbor as yourself.

Christ’s Peace,
Pastor Scott
412-682-6886

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