Greatness

November 1, 2010

Jesus sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, ‘Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.’ Mark 9:35

In my life I have known many faithful ones whom I think of as my “heroes of the faith.” Some are men or women I have never met. I’ve read their stories or studied their words and I’ve been inspired. But I’m fortunate enough to know many men and women in my life who are also heroes of the faith.

If I started naming names, I would surely forget one or two, so I won’t. But I’m picturing several in my head. These are mostly older men and women, who serve and minister without expecting anything in return. Men and women who don’t come to church to see what they can “get out of it,” but rather what they can offer to God, their church family, their community. They pick up elderly members who cannot drive any more and bring them to Sunday School, Church or activities; they visit those who are ill in the hospital; they comfort mourners at funerals; they faithfully prepare and teach a Sunday School class week after week; they stand up when everyone else is content to sit down. They make a difference in big, obvious ways sometimes, but more likely they make a difference in small, humble, quiet, one person at a time ways.

I will name of of my faith heroes. Amby Mangis has been faithfully serving the Presbyterian Church of Henderson since long before my time with this congregation began. In my time at the church, I’ve known her to be the one who brings the bread on Wednesday nights (wonderful loaves of bread, heated in the oven, sliced with butter between the slices); one who leads Presbyterian Women; and most recently, one who teaches the Fidelis Sunday School class.

In the past few years, Amby’s health has been steadily failing, causing her to leave much of her church work aside. But she kept leading her Sunday School class. Even though her eyesight was failing her and she had to take a magnifying glass and the large print book and large print Bible and spend hours reading and preparing her lesson, she still taught her class every single week.

Three weeks ago, I was visiting Sunday School classes and the Fidelis ladies invited me in to discuss a problem. Amby felt like it was finally time to acknowledge that her health problems were too great and that she would not be able to make it to church every week. The ladies of the Fidelis Class wondered where we would find a teacher who could replace Amby.

We never will. She’s one of those wonderful heroes who are simply irreplaceable.

Then earlier last week, Amby fell and broke her pelvis. After what must have been a very painful stay in the hospital, she was moved to a nursing home out of town to be closer to her daughter. I feel sad when I realize that Amby will never teach her class again, will probably never sit in her third row seat in worship, will maybe never be back to the Presbyterian Church in Henderson.

But I know that even if she never walks through the door again, she’s still here. Heroes of the faith are like that–they may go away, but the legacy is always there. I know she’s made a permanent impact on my faith and on my life.

When I think about saints like Amby and the other heroes I haven’t named, it makes me realize that I want my life to be about more than my calendar. I don’t want to be so focused on keeping my schedule “balanced,” on keeping my life on track, on reaching my own (sometimes selfish) goals that I forget to live a calling for service and greatness. I’m grateful for so many wonderful, living examples of sainthood in my life.

Today is All Saints Day! Join me in celebrating and considering the faith heroes God has placed in your life!

One response to Greatness

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