As a pastor, I take special delight in the fact that a lot of the passion for the poor and disenfranchised that Pope Francis has, seems to come from his life as a priest. There is something about being “with the people,” walking among the poor, and the physically and developmentally challenged that brings a dimension of Christ’s love and life.
We have a wonderful member of our church named Andy Jasperson. Andy is developmentally challenged. He is also an amazing fund raiser for worthy causes. Each year, during Advent and Lent, we invite our congregation to contribute devotionals for the season. And every year Andy contributes one for each, and every year, his is among the most heartfelt of them all. My blog today is essentially Andy’s devotional. I believe you will agree to its intrinsic power. Here it is:
My mother is now in a nursing home in Starke. She’s losing her memory. It’s so hard to watch her fade away. She loved me when everybody else thought I couldn’t make it in life. When I was taken from my family in Savannah, institutionalized, and then placed in a group home with an evil man, she rescued me. She believed in me. But now she’s losing her memory and might forget who I used to be and how far I’ve come. In some ways, that’s okay. That little boy is gone, and in his place is the independent man who led my mother to God a long time ago. She won’t forget God. And God won’t forget me.
My mother’s situation has been stressful. It comes at the same time that there are some hard transitions at work. I have a new supervisor, my hours have been cut, I have different responsibilities, and some of my coworkers have quit. I’ve been really scared. I’ve done a lot of crying and praying, reaching out to God. He comes to me and takes it all away.
Through all this change, I’ve learned to rely on things that are the same. I still go to work and church, run my food drive, and raise money for March of Dimes and the American Heart Association. I rely on my friends, my support team, my counselor, Rebecca Jackson, and my doctors. This year the walls of my house are covered with new certificates that remind me that I still have important work to do for God. That hasn’t changed.
A week before Thanksgiving, Rebecca and I are taking dinner with pumpkin pie to my mother. And I’ve already been Christmas shopping for her. I used a gift certificate that I got from the March of Dimes and bought her two beautiful sweaters that my counselor Kathy will help me wrap.
Even though I can’t go home to my mother for Christmas anymore, I’ll decorate a tree in my apartment here in Gainesville. The angel on top will remind me that Christmas isn’t a time to be sad about loss and change; it’s a time to be grateful for miracles and wonders, and things that will never be forgotten.
PRAYER: Dear God, thank you for bringing us through rough times and giving us friends and family for help and guidance as we make memories together and keep them safe for each other. Amen. (Andy Jasperson)