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Welcome One and All

January 13, 2019 by Monica A. Andermann (New York)

It is with a heavy heart that I write these words today. Sadly, the church member I discussed in today’s devotion passed away earlier this year. While I was, and still am, impressed by this man’s spirit, I never had the opportunity to know much more about him other than what I witnessed on Sunday mornings. At his passing, however, our church bulletin offered his backstory:            

"This gentleman served in the armed forces as a young draftee and unfortunately suffered a myriad of effects related to chemical warfare. Not necessarily religious in his youth, upon his release to civilian life he prayed daily to God for a return to health. He gave his life over to God, resumed church attendance and — though he still remained frail — he did experience significant improvements. Throughout the balance of his life, he was faced with other health-related trials. Yet, some things never wavered: his faith, his devotion to God and church, and his wonderful spirit."         

For me, knowing this additional part of his background makes my fellow church member’s story all the more poignant. I wonder now, how many Sundays he may have come to church in some type of discomfort or distress, casting it aside to continue his part as one of the Lord’s workers. He truly provided a powerful example of Christian commitment. I strive to live up to this example.            

We all suffer through trials. It is part and parcel of the human condition. Some of us will experience greater difficulties like this man did, and some of us will experience lesser difficulties. Yet, we all have the same opportunity to lay our troubles at the foot of the cross. There, Jesus meets us and takes our hand. When troubles threaten you, may you feel the Lord’s presence — in the touch of a friend, in the kiss of a loved one, in the hand of a stranger extended in peace.    

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all consolation, who consoles us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to console those who are in any affliction with the consolation with which we ourselves are consoled by God. — 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (NRSV)

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