Sunday, January 13, 2008

It all started when...

Happy sunshine, PDX!

It all started when the sun came up, but it was foggy. But then it cleared. Actually it all started a long, long time ago. God had to make the sun first, then a whole bunch more stuff. Patient God. Plans ahead and all.

It all started when I sent a thank-you letter to the Great Harvest Bread Company at Clackamas Town Center. They have been a most generous donor of bread and other baked goods for Operation Nightwatch worship. Bootsie always turns them into a luscious feast for our Sunday evening worshipers. I thought it was important to thank not only Bootsie, our first Sunday worship food provider, but also the Great Harvest Bread Co. Wrote a thank-you letter.

Then Pam, a customer, saw the thank-you in the store and called to find out about the ministry. She started coming to worship. Brought her husband. Started bringing her parents too. But actually it all started long before that.

Pam's Dad had an accident. Lost both feet. Smart guy has a heart for Christ and a head for figuring out how to make his own prostheses fit a lot better. Knows good people in the prosthetics business.

Then one night at worship there was a prayer request. A man new to the area had an amputation, no prosthesis, no pain meds. Needed prayer. Pam's Dad heard the prayer. Offered to give the man one of his own man-made feet. I made calls and e-mails. Daywatch got them hooked up. Turns out that the old prosthesis wouldn't fit. Didn't stop Pam's Dad. He got the man hooked up with people who make and fit new ones, offered to help it all happen. But it all started long before that.

Debbie, the former Executive Director of Operation Nightwatch came to speak at my home church, Resurrection Lutheran. Brand new on the job. I was midway in seminary studies. Al, a longtime supporter and volunteer at Nightwatch, took me by the hand after service and said, "Roger, come here and meet Debbie." I did. I was her first volunteer recruit. I thank God it happened. Best thing that happened in many years.

But it all started long before that when Debbie, a young mother herself, went from being a married Mom to a single Mom. Couldn't stop caring for kids. Took in over 50 foster kids along with her own. That OJT led her to the Greenhouse ministry to teens in downtown Portland. That experience led Debbie to Operation Nightwatch. And God's love in her own life led her to seek to add a worship service to ONW's ministry. I heard the call, sent the Board my plan. They said yes.

But it all started when two parents back East gave birth to a son. A son who found his way to Portland. A fall into drug use and the need for money. Crimes committed. Arrest. Charges. Repentance and a turning. Facing the consequences in court. One of the most significant prayers I've ever been asked to pray was for this man. Prayer for both justice and mercy. They are not exclusives. God's justice is mercy.

But it all started when John the Baptist pointed to someone greater than he. No, wait. It all started when a young woman named Mary gave birth to a son and when Joseph, at God's request, didn't dump her.

No, wait! It started with exile and return, slavery and freedom of a people. Or maybe it all started when Abraham and Sarah had a son... Or when Abrham believed God... Or when God got muddy in the dust of his own creation, making mud with the moisture of his own mouth and gave the creatures his very breath.

It all started when... When the God without beginning knit all of life together in the fabric of new beginnings.

Look at your own life. Find the time when you can say, "It all started when..." Go ahead. How long do you have? God has forever.

And it all started when...


Pastor Roger

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