As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.1 Peter 4:10
On July 29, I went downstairs to pick up dinner from the cafeteria in our building. After chatting with some residents and servers and gathering our items, I headed for the exit. Just before I went out the door, one of the servers picked up two brightly decorated bags and handed them to me. “What’s this?” I asked. “Mrs. Susan xxxx is 100 years old today and she’s giving everybody these,” she replied. “What! Today is her 100th birthday and she’s giving us gifts?” The server responded, “That’s what everyone has said.” As I headed back to our apartment, many thoughts flew through my head: amazing, wonderful, thoughtful, gracious, giving.
I have met Susan but don’t know her well. Since we live in buildings on opposite ends of the St. James campus, our paths don’t cross often, especially since COVID-19. I do recall that she is rather tall and straight, don’t think she uses a walker, and always has a big smile. Wanting to know more, I checked her biography in the residents’ book. Compared to most, hers is very short: name, birth date and location, date she moved to St. James, career, volunteer activities, children, grandchildren, church affiliation. Nothing about degrees, awards or recognitions, hobbies, etc.
We have a fair number of 100th birthday celebrations here with big parties where all residents are invited, family and friends gather, tons of food and multiple birthday cakes are served, pictures and awards are displayed, and the celebrant receives many, many cards and well wishes. I checked and no mention was made that this was her 100th birthday on the July birthday list, just her name and the day. She didn’t even get a mention in Smiley’s column. So, except for her family and friends who can’t visit during this time, and maybe a few friends here, no one knew that she was celebrating 100 years until we received her gifts to us.
What an example she has set for me, for all of us. In these days when many of us look around and see only the bad and complain about what we can’t have or do, here is a woman born at the end of one pandemic and now going through another on her 100th birthday, and she celebrates by giving gifts to others. Wow!
Gracious and loving God, help us to look up from our emphasis on ourselves and look around to recognize the gifts you send to us from others, whether a smile, a kind word, or something bigger. Give us grace to share the gifts we receive with others and to remember that your greatest example of giving is Your Son, Jesus Christ, who gave everything – for us.
Offered by Beverly Tipton
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