Saturday, December 12, 2015

The Fourteenth Day of Advent: God Comes to Me in Thelma

Thelma will be 100 years old on December 28th.  She is a member of Harmony Baptist Church in West Virginia.  That was the first church I ever served as a pastor.  How they put up with me for those three years as a ministerial student, I shall never know.  What I do know is that Thelma has been a faithful friend for fifty years, writing twice a year to share her life and the life of the congregation with me.  She and her husband, Jim, came to my college graduation and visited us several times after we moved away from West Virginia.  Two years ago we visited Thelma at her home where she still manages to take care of herself and enjoyed her warm hospitality.

Thelma, my faithful friend for 50 years.
“Last December,” Thelma writes in her most recent letter, “they told me my aorta valve was not doing much work and I needed the valve replaced….I finally decided to take a chance and have the operation.” She is doing wonderfully well now, one year later, and extended a warm invitation for us to attend her 100th birthday party!

Thelma has had a wonderful life, but not without difficulties.  She is revered by her son and daughter, respected by her friends, and deeply loved by her church community.  She has learned, in the midst of all the ups and downs to view life with sincere gratitude.  All who rub shoulders with Thelma get a sense of “that of God” within her.  

Now it comes to me, as I hold Thelma in my bundle this Advent morning, that while I thought I was ministering to her and the congregation of Harmony those long years ago, the truth was, and still  is, that she and that congregation ministered to me.  God comes to me in Thelma!

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