Bernie

Bernie

 

Bernie and Molly

 
They say there's strength in numbers and that good things come in small packages. Growing up in the United Church of Christ, I've learned both.

I guess you could say I was an early bloomer. I was always taller and stronger than other guys my age, so whenever a helping hand--or muscle--was needed, guess who they called? Every Sunday at church, along with a few other guys, I became the unofficial elevator. This church was built in the 19th century with lots of chairs, and an electric lift just wasn't on the horizon yet, until Lynn came around.

Lynn was a member of our church who'd recently learned to adjust to a wheelchair mobile life. Our church had not yet. So the guys and I would take turns carrying Lynn in her chair up the old steps of the church. Sure I didn't exactly look forward to this, but it was something I knew I had to do.

I never knew exactly how important my job was until one Sunday. I missed church. When I went back the next week, it turns out that so did the other guys. It broke my heart when I heard that Lynn had no way to get up those steps and had to go back home.

I knew right then and there how important my service was to the church. I realized the value of each person’s service to carrying out our congregation’s mission. Each member has a purpose in the church. Communion reminds us that we all have a place.

Today, even though my job as a head of security for my city's transit authority keeps me busy, I'm never too busy to help out at church. I've probably done just about every role in the church, from trustee to moderator, and I never forget who could use my help.

Lynn must have sensed I was pretty busy--or pretty tired--too. She ended up organizing rummage sales to get the lift chair she and the church needed.

Little did I know I how I'd need that it chair one day. My daughter was born with Cerebral Palsy, and she's now using the same electric lift chair that Lynn helped secure. Every Sunday, Molly glides into a church where she is loved and accepted. I know there is a community there to support her and that makes me want to support it back even more. God calls all people. It is our mission to be a blessing to others as God has been to us. Through the church, my family feels accepted, nurtured and cared for--we feel whole.

Who knows? Maybe Molly will be the next Lynn and create a whole new campaign to help others with physical challenges.And who knows what challenges lay ahead for our church and each other. I do know that I look forward to helping that next young guy who wants to lend a helping hand. We may not need a strong guy to lift someone up the stairs like we used to, but we always need a strong person, no matter how big or small or young or old, to lift someone's spirits.

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