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Reaching Out, March 18, 2018

“The story is about a little wave, bobbing along in the ocean, having a grand old time. He’s enjoying the wind and the fresh air – until he notices the other waves in front of him, crashing against the shore. “This is terrible”, the wave says. “Look what’s going to happen to me!” Then along comes another wave. It sees the first wave, looking grim, and it says to him: “Why do you look so sad?” The first wave says: “You don’t understand! We’re all going to crash! All of us waves are going to be nothing! Isn’t it terrible?” The second wave says: “No, you don’t understand. You’re not a wave, you’re part of the ocean.”

This story is from Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom. It is also part of a Lenten study Exploring the Bible Discussion Group is working through on Wednesday mornings. The question that follows this paragraph is: Do you prefer to be part of the ocean or a single wave? And Why?

The Lenten study this year looks at Outreach/Reaching Out. Reaching out does not only mean what you can do for others but how does that make a difference – to you, the reacher; to them, the receiver; to us, the watchers and to all – how does outreach affect our society?

John’s parents were my biggest cheerleaders and supporters during my journey to ordination. The stoles I wear were a gift from them. They sought out a liturgical seamstress and had them made with symbols meaningful to them, and hopefully would be to me. There were only two things I asked for on the stoles. Footprints and a cross. You may have noticed that all of my stoles have these at the shoulder. The footprints lead out carrying the cross. This is where my vocation takes me. Outside of these walls reaching out to members of our community who, for various reasons can no longer join us here. These footprints and cross take me to volunteer work at crisis centres, youth groups, seniors homes. These footprints and cross are the inspiration behind the outreach presented at St. Andrew’s. Lastly, these footprints and cross remind me where I’m called to be and what I’m called to do.

Sometimes we all need to be reminded that we are a very small part, a single wave, in a huge world. Would it really matter if one wave were not part of the ocean. One person not part of that whole?

Yes, it makes a difference.

This is another except from our study: “Once there was a wise man who went to the ocean to do his writing. He liked to walk on the beach before he began his work. One day as he was walking along the shore he saw a person moving like a dancer. He smiled to himself to think of someone who would dance to the day. So he began to walk faster to catch up. As he got closer, he saw a young man but instead of dancing, he was reaching down to the shore, picking up something and very gently throwing it into the ocean. He called out, “Good morning! What are you doing?” The young man paused, looked up and replied, “Throwing starfish in the ocean.” “Why are you throwing starfish in the ocean?” “The sun is up and the tide is going out. And if I don’t throw them in they’ll die.” “But, young man, don’t you realize that there are miles and miles of beach and starfish all along it. You can’t possibly make a difference!” The young man listened politely. Then bent down, picked another starfish and threw it into the sea, past the breaking waves and said, “It made a difference for that one.”

Yes, you make a difference.

Mother Theresa is quoted as saying: Every time you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing. Each time you reach out, each time you offer some sort of outreach, it ends with a smile. Take our Fill the Sills campaign at Christmas. It felt good to be able to bring toys. It made us smile when we looked at them on our windowsills. It made the receivers smile when the toys were dropped off. And I have no doubt, it made the children smile when they found your caring on Christmas morning.

Yes, you make a difference.

One more story: “During my second month of nursing school, our professor gave us a pop quiz. I was a conscientious student and had breezed through the questions, until I read the last one: “What is the first name of the woman who cleans the school?” Surely this was some kind of joke. I had seen the cleaning woman several times. She was tall, dark haired and in her 50’s, but how would I know her name? I handed in my paper, leaving the last question blank. Just before class ended, one student asked if the last question would count towards our quiz grade. “Absolutely,” said the professor. “In your careers, you will meet many people. All are significant. They deserve your attention and care, even if all you do is smile and say ‘hello’.” I’ve never forgotten that lesson. I also learned her name was Millie.”

How does reaching out in this way make a difference? To you? To Millie? We have likely all been on the receiving end of a situation where we wonder if it is really worth it to put ourselves out there. Asking ourselves if anyone really cares? We raised $315.00 at the Soup for the Soul luncheon last Sunday. This has gone to the Primates World Relief and Development Fund. The receivers of this money may be anywhere in the world. All they know is that fellow Christians care about them.

From the book Keeping God in the Small Stuff: “God doesn’t often give us huge opportunities that are spectacular. But He always gives us small opportunities that are significant.”

Yes, you make a difference.

Last year during Holy Week, Rev’d Matt came to our Wednesday morning study group and we shared an intimate Eucharist. This is happening again next week. Giving and receiving. Reaching out to each other in the spirit of the fellowship of Christ.

Giving. Yes, You make a difference.

Receiving. Yes, You make a difference.

Reaching. Thank you for making a difference.

Copyright ©2018 by Kay Baxter.